Researchers Develop Potato-powered Batteries

Whether it's egg and chips, a few roasties, or boxty, as an Irish girl, I don't need another reason to love potatoes. However, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have just given everyone else another reason to love the starchy root vegetable: They say they have discovered a new way to construct an efficient battery using zinc and copper electrodes and a slice of potato.

Researchers at Yissum Research Development Company Ltd., the technology transfer arm of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, found that boiling a potato prior to use in electrolysis increases electric power up to 10 fold over an untreated potato. This enables the battery to potentially work for weeks.

The study showed that the treated potato generates energy that is five to 50 times cheaper than commercially available 1.5 Volt D cells and Energizer E91 cells, respectively. This means boiled potatoes (or other treated vegetables) present as a possible solution for a cheap and accessible energy source for developing countries that don't have access to the electrical infrastructure available to more developed nations.

The Hebrew University says the scientific basis of the finding is related to the reduction in the internal salt bridge resistance of the potato battery, which is exactly how engineers are trying to optimize the performance of conventional batteries.

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