…a potato will light your bulb for 40 days?
Potatoes are cheap, they can be easily stored and can be kept for a long time. 120 crore people in the world are deprived of electricity and a potato can illuminate their home!
Is it possible to use potatoes instead of the electricity grid for lighting bulbs and lighting the houses?
Researcher Rabinovich and his colleagues have been encouraging people to do the same for the last few years.
These are made by adding cheap metal plates, wires and LED bulbs and claiming that these techniques will illuminate small towns and villages around the world.
Rabbinovich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem claims, “A potato can burn the LED bulb for forty days.”
Rabinovic is not giving any new theory for this. These principles are taught in high school books and the battery works on it.
This requires two metals – the first anode, which is the negative electrode, such as zinc, and the second cathode – which is the positive electrode, such as copper.
The acid contained within the potato performs chemically with zinc and copper and when the electrons move from one substance to the other, the energy produces.
It was invented in 1780 by Luigi Gelwani when he had tied two metals on the frog legs to shake the frog muscles. But you can keep several substances between these two electrodes to get the same effect.
Alexander Volta used the paper that was wet in salt water. In other research, ‘Earth Batteries’ were made from two plates of metal and a pile of clay or water bucket.
In 2010, Rabinovich decided to try another attempt in this direction with Alex Goldberg and Boris Rubinsky of university of California
Goldberg explains, “We looked at 20 different types of potatoes and examined their internal resistance, which helped us to understand how much energy was destroyed by heating.”
By boiling the potatoes for eight minutes, the organic tissue breaks inside the potato, resistance decreases, and the electrons begin to move more and more – the energy becomes more energy-efficient.
The potatoes were cut into four or five pieces and placed between copper and zinc plates. This increased energy by 10 times i.e. the cost of generating power decreased.
Rabinovich says, “its voltage is low, but such a battery can be made that can charge mobile or laptop.”
The cost of electricity generated by boiling a potato was $ 9 per kilowatt hour, which was nearly 50 times cheaper than the D-cell battery.
In developing countries where the use of kerosene (kerosene oil) is high, it was also six times cheaper.
Indian leader unlearned from potato battery?
In the year 2010, 324 million tonnes of potatoes were produced in the world. It is grown in 130 countries of the world and is considered the best source of starch.
Potatoes are cheap, they can be easily stored and can be kept for a long time.
120 crore people in the world are deprived of electricity and a potato can illuminate their home.
“We thought the organization would show interest in it,” says Rabinovich. We thought that Indian politicians would take us hands. “
Then what happened that the governments, companies or organizations around the world did not pay attention to this research that took place three years ago.
Rabinovich says, “There is a direct answer, they probably do not know about it.”
But the reason is not so straightforward, the matter is a bit complicated.
The first reason is that this issue is related to ‘food for electricity’. United Nations Agriculture and Food Organization says that making energy from sugarcane or biofuel should be avoided.
The first requirement is to see if there are enough potatoes to eat. Potatoes are the main food after maize for people in a country like Kenya. There the small farmers raised 10 million tonnes of potatoes this year.
According to experts, 10-20% of these were destroyed due to non-store or other reasons and they could certainly be employed for generating energy.
Perhaps this is the reason why researchers from the University of Kelania of Sri Lanka are keen to experiment with banana stems.
Physicist KD Jayasurya and her team say that a LED can run up to 500 hours after boiling parts of the banana stem.
However, the real source of energy is not the potato or banana stem.
Energy is born from the zinc rub. This means that after some time zinc has to be re-applied.
But zinc is cheap and zinc electrodes last for about five months and its price is equal to one liter kerosene.
At least in Sri Lankar 1 lt kerosene is used by a family in two nights.
If zinc is not available then magnesium and iron can also be used as alternatives.