The Albert Bartlett Guide to Potato Power!
Potatoes are the world’s fourth most abundant food, full of Vitamin C, B6 and more potassium than a banana! But hunger isn’t the only thing potatoes can solve. They can help create a battery, producing electrical energy. If only Mark Watney was more into his physics than his botany, he would have been able to power his own way home.
So, how does it work?
By sticking a copper coin and a zinc nail into either sides of a potato, they become positive and negative terminals of a battery, meaning a current can pass between them. This process converts chemical energy into electrical energy. Simple!
Researchers found that a boiled potato can produce 10x the output of a raw one. Each raw potato produces around 0.5 volts of energy, but a boiled potato can produce 5 volts, about half the energy found in an AA battery!
How to create your own potato power!
What you need:
· 2 potatoes (red roosters, of course!)
· 2 copper pennies (or copper strips), one per potato
· 2 zinc nails (galvanized nails)
· 3 alligator clips
· A low current, low voltage LED clock
What to do:
1. Remove the regular battery from the clock, but make sure you note which way around the positive and negative points of the battery went.
2. Number the potatoes 1 and 2.
3. Insert one nail and one copper penny in each potato, as far away from each other as possible. If the two metals touched within the potato, it wouldn’t work, as you’d short circuit the battery.
4. Connect the penny in potato 1 to the positive terminal in the clock using an alligator clip.
5. Connect the nail in potato 2 to the negative terminal in the clock using an alligator clip.
6. Connect the nail in potato 1 to the penny in potato 2 using an alligator clip.
7. Set the clock!
After finding out how simple it is so make electricity from a potato, we decided to calculate how many potatoes Mark Watney would have to produce to get some home comforts. Better get planting!