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Potatoes: A new power source?

07-29-2010 10:10 BJT

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Israeli researchers have taken the age-old school science experiment, the potato battery, one stage further - by boiling it.

The researchers say the cooked potatoes have ten times more battery power than raw ones - and they could actually provide a cheap source of electricity in the developing world.

Boiled potatoes are known for being part of a healthy meal - now a group of Israeli researchers believe they make good batteries as well.

The team, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, say their update on the humble potato battery could be an important energy source across the third world.

Since the 19th century its been known that inserting zinc and copper electrodes into a potato, sees the vegetable act as an electrolyte and produces a current.

Now, research student, Alex Golberg, says a new and simple twist on the technique has remarkable results.

Alex Golberg, Research Student, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said, "What we found in our research is that by boiling (the potato), we reduce the internal resistance of the potato battery and this way we are able to generate ten times more energy than the regular potato battery does."

Boiling the potato first increases the output of a potato to nearly half that of a commercial AA battery -- and works for days or even weeks.

Grown in more than 100 countries, potatoes are cheap, have a long shelf-life and can be stored without refrigeration -- qualities the team say make it an ideal energy source.

Lead researcher, Professor Haim Rabinowitch, says the findings could benefit millions of people.

Haim Rabinowitch, researcher, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said, "I hope that it will become distributed as in may countries for many people and provide them with essentials that we in the developed world take it for granted. I mean, light - we switch on the light, telephone and so on and so forth, these are just obvious."

The researchers say the boiled potato battery produces electricity between 5 and 50 times cheaper than a commercial equivalent and is at least six times more economical than kerosene lamps used the world over.

Food for thought -- and power.

Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: CNTV.CN

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