Apart from being tasty in all of its variations; mashed, fried etc. potato is also one of the most available food item across the globe. It’s the world’s fourth most abundant food crop. Imagine if it can function in more ways than just adding to the taste.
A recent research program inferred that a quarter slice of boiled potato fixed between a copper cathode and a zinc anode wired together can power a LED equipped room for 40 days. Research team led by Haim Rabinowitch, an agricultural science professor also concluded that a potato can provide energy to personal electronics at one tenth of the cost of a typical AA battery.
The potato itself is not the source of energy; it is a mere conductor of electricity and acts as a salt bridge between the two metals. Hence, allowing the free electron movement across the wire. The output is enhanced by boiling because once boiled the potato loses its dense flesh and electrons are allowed to move more freely. It was also deduced that the efficiency is further improved by cutting the potatoes in four or five pieces.
The model is easy to build as the parts of the kit are readily available and the expensive parts such as zinc cathode can also be replaced with more inexpensive items. Kerosene lamps that provide equivalent light cost approximately six times more than the potato battery. This opens abundant avenues of opportunities to underdeveloped and remote regions of the world.