Scientists Revisit Power from Potatoes
Simple sustainable solution:
There are still places in the world where basic infrastructure for lighting and other electrical needs is insufficient. The researchers at Hebrew University are now trying to create magic out of humble common potatoes to provide a solution for generating power to meet this need.
Potato powered battery:
It is the salt-bridge capacity that is latent in treated potato tubers which makes them the ideal medium for generating power easily and economically. An easy process of electrolysis is used in the construction of the simple yet efficient battery. A slice of our ordinary potato, zinc and copper electrodes are all that go to make the battery. By boiling the potato, the electric power is increased 10 times more than with the non-boiled potatoes, and the longevity is also greatly increased.
Similar to conventional batteries:
The principle scientists use to better the performance of the traditional batteries is almost similar. The less the salt-bridge resistance in the potato-power battery, the longer and more efficient the batteries are.
Potato power demonstrated:
The treated potato power batteries (with low power electricity) were used to power LEDs. These batteries can provide lighting, power telecommunication and transfer of information in the developing non-OECD populated areas. Where there is insufficient access to proper electrical infrastructure, these eco- and environmentally friendly green generators of power will be found useful.
Prof. Haim D. Rabinowitch, Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food & Environment and Alex Golberg, School of Computer Science & Engineering, Hebrew University, jointly with Prof. Boris Rubinsky, University of California, Berkeley, carried out the research – sponsored by Yissum Research Development Company Ltd, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The research was into electrolytic process in living matter that can be used for many applications, including generation of electric energy like for self-powered implanted medical electronic devices.
Cost-wise also potato-powered batteries are more viable. The 1.5 volt D cells and Energizer E-91 cells proved to be more costly – about 5-50 times more than these vegetable powered cells. Not only potatoes but other treated vegetables can be utilized to provide clean and inexpensive green energy. But potatoes win hands down as vegetable of choice to power the battery due to their high production and easy availability.