Potent potato power

Energy is on my radar these days. Really! Now biogalvanic cells have an appeal all their own, and this is a note for future reference.

Chemistry: Potent potato power : Nature : Nature Publishing Group: “Schoolchildren are routinely shown how to convert potatoes into makeshift batteries using copper and zinc electrodes. Haim Rabinowitch at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel and his colleagues now report a way to rev up the power output: by boiling the potatoes first.

Boiled or electroporated Solanum tuberosum produced a voltage up to ten times higher than raw potatoes. The authors calculate that energy production from these potatoes is five- to fiftyfold cheaper than commonly used batteries and can produce light, through LEDs (light-emitting diodes, pictured), more cheaply than kerosene lamps. Potatoes could thus provide an inexpensive way to power low-energy appliances.

The authors suggest that rupturing tissue membranes by boiling or electroporation alters the properties of the tissue sandwiched between the electrodes such that it enhances the energy-generating capabilities of the biological power cell.”

Now, who said that you can not have your cake and eat it too? I mean, potato! No… I think I am getting my metaphors all screwed up!

I started laughing when I first read the headline, then the blurb on Nature and finally gave the initial scientific report a cursive reading, and in my view this kind of energy generation needs some well deserved attention. Imagine that you can recharge a mobile communication device using a few boiled potatoes and a few bits of copper wire… If you can not easily store energy, then if you can at least generate it easily, unforeseen widespread applications may just pop out everywhere.