Potato Powered Computer

CHAPTER II

“Review of Related Literature and Studies”

Presented in chapter is a synthesis of research that supports the evaluation and explains the importance and advantages in using the potato-powered battery. Many questions about potato-powered battery are explained in this study. Thus, this study is a complete overview about potato-powered battery.

Literature

a) Foreign
Two metals – an anode, which is the negative electrode, such as zinc, and a cathode, the positively charged electrode, such as copper. The acid inside the potato forms a chemical reaction with the zinc and copper, and when the electrons flow from one material to another, energy is released. (Galvani, 1780)

The potato serves as a solid state salt bridge. The advantage is in the convenience of a solid component with a naturally generated composition. The quantity of potatoes needed for the salt bridge function is negligible relative to food consumption. The wearable material is the Zn. In fact with proper studies it may turn out that the migration of Zn ions into the potato may provide nutritional benefits to the potato slice used in the battery. Therefore no food is wasted. Furthermore, as mentioned in the paper, while the potato may be optimal because it is widely available, every tuber or solid plant material could be used as a solid state bridge. Nevertheless, reducing the internal impedance of the salt bridge through actions such as boiling is crucial to increasing efficiency. (Becker, 2010)

Electrical flow from potatoes — long known to be natural electrolytes — can be enhanced tenfold when their cell membranes are deliberately ruptured by boiling. To demonstrate, the researchers created a series of batteries out of slices of boiled Desiree potatoes about the size of a standard mobile phone, though they say the type and size of potato slice do not determine its power. (Kirchhoff, 2003)

The study reveals that a single boiled potato battery with zinc and copper electrodes generates portable energy at an estimated $9 per kilowatt hour, which is 50-fold cheaper than a typical 1.5 volt AA alkaline cell or D cell battery, which can cost $49–84 per kilowatt hour. It’s also an estimated six times cheaper than standard kerosene lamps used in the developing world. (Rabinowitch, 2010)

The holy grail of renewable energy research may lie in the cooking pot, according to scientists. The search for a cheap source of electricity for remote, off-grid communities, has led to batteries that work on freshly boiled potatoes. One slice of potato can generate 20 hours of light, and several slices could provide enough energy to power simple medical equipment and even a low-power computer. (Hebrew University, 2010)

b) Local
A charity which promotes technology for development, said: “With half the world’s population having no access to modern energy, this research is a valuable contribution to one of the biggest challenges in the world”. But is concerned about the limited amount of power that individual batteries can generate and the possible implications of diverting a food crop into energy production. (Sanchez, 2010)

The holy grail of renewable energy research may lie in the cooking pot, according to scientists. The search for a cheap source of electricity for remote, off-grid communities, has led to batteries that work on freshly boiled potatoes. One slice of potato can generate 20 hours of light, and several slices could provide enough energy to power simple medical equipment and even a low-power computer, said a research team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

“The technology is ready to go,” co-researcher Haim Rabinowitch told SciDev.Net. “It should take an interested body only a short while, and very little investment, to make this available to communities in need.” The team, which described its work in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy earlier this month (7 June), said its work hinges on a recent discovery that the electrical flow from potatoes — long known to be natural electrolytes — can be enhanced tenfold when their cell membranes are deliberately ruptured by boiling.

To demonstrate, the researchers created a series of batteries out of slices of boiled Desiree potatoes about the size of a standard mobile phone, though they say the type and size of potato slice do not determine its power. The device had the same basic components as conventional batteries, consisting of two electrodes separated by an electrolyte (the potato). Each battery powered a small light for 20 hours, after which a new slice could be inserted. Potato batteries are estimated to generate energy at a cost of approximately US$9 per kilowatt hour (kW/h), which compares favourably with the best performing 1.5 volt (AA) alkaline cells — or D cells — which generate energy at US$50/kWh.

Banana and strawberry batteries could also be used, said Rabinowitch, but their softer tissues would weaken the structure of the battery and the sugars could attract insects. “Potatoes were chosen because of their availability all over including the tropics and sub-tropics,” he said. They are the world’s fourth most abundant food crop.” (Dacey,2010)

Energy technology and policy advisor at Practical Action, a charity which promotes technology for development, said: “With half the world’s population having no access to modern energy, this research is a valuable contribution to one of the biggest challenges in the world”.(Sanchez,2010)

Potato electricity is a good idea in regions where potatoes are grown in plenty. Regions like western Uganda where potatoes rot due to the inability to transport them to urban areas in time for sale, the idea can work perfectly well. If the people are sensitized, excess food crop can be converted in electricity. (Makara,2010)

I find it extraordinary that people should find this obvious move forward in renewable resources not only innovative and creative but also potentially effective to global community if it is taken seriously. All renewable resources were considered marginal and off-beat when they first came to being. Now they are part of our everyday lives. Give this the same respect. (Elecsolar,2011)

Studies

a) Foreign

Compared to kerosene lamps used in many developing parts of the world, the system can provide equivalent lighting at one-sixth the cost; it’s estimated to be somewhere around $9 per kilowatt hour and a D cell battery, for another point of comparison, can run as much as $84 per kilowatt hour. (Rabinowitch)

By simply boiling the potatoes for eight minutes, it broke down the organic tissues inside the potatoes, reducing resistance and allowing for freer movement of electrons– thus producing more energy. They also increased the energy output by slicing the potato into four or five pieces, each sandwiched by a copper and zinc plate, to make a series. “We found we could improve the output 10 times, which made it interesting economically, because the cost of energy drops down.” (Golberg, 2009)

There are also other similarly treated vegetables could provide an immediate, environmental friendly and inexpensive solution to many of the low power energy needs in areas of the world lacking access to electrical infrastructure. (Rubinsky, 2010)

The long-keeping humble potatoes in particular are a good energy source since they are produced in 130 countries over a wide range of climates, from temperate zones to the subtropics- more than any other crop worldwide, but corn, and thus available year round almost anywhere. (Willington, 2010)

Banana and strawberry batteries could also be used, but their softer tissues would weaken the structure of the battery and the sugars could attract insects. Potatoes were chosen because of their availability all over including the tropics and sub-tropics,”. They are the world’s fourth most abundant food crop.” (Rabinowitch, 2009)

b) Local
Good news meets you rural folks as well as field workers, as research & development discovered the positive usable energy stored in potato that can be used for micro-instruments. The cooking pot surely promises lots for those living in hinterlands, as boiled potato was shown to exhibit positive energy capacities. That is, just to stress, when potato is boiled. Potato is eventually available everywhere, which explains why it was chosen among diverse agri products for the research & development project. From rural to urban markets, potatoes can be found. They comprise the 4th most abundant agricultural products. (Argonza,2012)

Believe it or not you can make a battery from a potato. Though this is a neat trick for a science project, it is probably not practical for powering your alarm clock. The chemicals in the potato juice react much in the same way that battery acid does and can generate electricity. (www.miniscience.com/projects/PotatoElectricity)

The potato battery can generate energy five to 50 times less expensive than commercial batteries. “The ability to provide electrical power with such simple and natural means could benefit millions of people in the developing world, literally bringing light and telecommunication to their life in areas currently lacking electrical infrastructure.” (http://www.shalomlife.com/news/13016/israelis-develop-boiled-potato-batteries/)

The team found that boiling the potato before implementing it electrically increased its power up to 10 times over the unboiled potato, allowing the battery to last for days or even weeks. Potatoes are internationally available year-round, able to grow in a variety of different climates, and are one of the cheapest sources of non-grain starches available. Now, not only do potatoes provide energy to our physical bodies, but they have the potential to provide energy for the use of electrical implements, as well. (Harreetz)