Researchers in Israel have discovered that boiled potatoes can do more than power the body. It can also power a light switch.
According to a press release (PDF format) from Yissum Research Development Company Ltd., the technology transfer arm of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the company has produced a new solid organic electric battery based on treated potatoes.
The press release stated that researchers found out enhancing the salt bridge capability of treated potato tubers can generate electricity. The easy to use power source is being touted as being able to improve the quality of life of 1.6 billion people who currently lack access to electrical infrastructure.
“The ability to provide electrical power with such simple and natural means could benefit millions of people in the developing world, literally bringing light and telecommunications to their life in areas currently lacking electrical infrastructure,” Yissum CEO Yaacov Michlin stated in the release.
Scientists discovered that boiling a potato prior to using it in electrolysis increases electric power up to 10 fold over an unboiled potato and lets the battery last for days and possibly weeks. The battery is constructed using zinc and copper electrodes and a slice of potato.
They claim that cost analysis shows the treated battery could generate electricity five to 50 folds cheaper than 1.5 volt D cells. It also stated that the power would be 6 times more economical than kerosene lamps.
The findings were published in the June issue of the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy and this week’s Research Highlights section of Nature.
Miniscience.com showed how a battery can be made by a potato. According to the website, batteries generate electricity through a chemical reaction between copper and zinc electrodes as the needed electrodes and a potato as the electrolyte.
The water-soluble chemicals cause a chemical reaction with one or both of the electrodes.
The catch, stated Miniscience.com, is making a battery that can continue to produce more electricity for a longer period of time. A regular potato would create about 1 to 1.5 volts, and usually does not create enough current to turn on a small light.
The website Hothardware.com suggests that the time is right to replace traditional batteries, saying that “the fact that we’re still dealing with lead-acid batteries is sort of a baffling thing to wrap one’s mind around.”
“We won’t get our hopes up too high until fuel cells become the viable alternative that we have been told that they are, but we strangely have more faith in a vegetable than a science lab to revolutionize the battery,” the website stated.
in the mean time I’m just glad they found Lithium in Afghanistan so we don’t have to count on reserves in Bolivia… near where Potatoes and other tubers originally came from