We’re all familiar with mashed, baked and french fried potatoes….but a spud-powered battery?
Yissum Research Development Company Ltd., the technology transfer arm of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, recently unveiled a solid organic electric battery that runs on treated potatoes. This simple, sustainable, robust device can potentially provide an immediate inexpensive solution to electricity needs in parts of the world lacking electrical infrastructure.
“The ability to construct efficient vegetative batteries supplies us with a novel way of exploiting bio-energy sources, which are currently primarily used as fuel,” said Yaacov Michlin, CEO of Yissum. “The ability to provide electrical power with such simple and natural means could benefit millions of people in the developing word, literally bringing light and telecommunication to their life in areas currently lacking electrical infrastructure.”
The scientists discovered that the simple action of boiling the potato prior to use in electrolysis increases electric power up to 10 fold over the untreated potato and enables the battery to work for days and even weeks. 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.
The ability to produce and utilize low power electricity was demonstrated by LEDs powered by treated potato batteries. Cost analyses showed that the treated potato battery generates energy, which is five to 50 folds cheaper than commercially available 1.5 Volt D cells and Energizer E91 cells, respectively. The clean light powered by this green battery is also at least 6 times more economical than kerosene lamps often used in the developing world.