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Potato Battery

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People are using more and more household batteries. The average person owns about two button batteries, ten normal (A, AA, AAA, C, D, 9V, etc.) batteries, and throws out about eight household batteries per year. A battery is an electrochemical device with the ability to convert chemical energy to electrical energy to provide power to electronic devices. Batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel, which can contaminate the environment when batteries are improperly disposed of. When incinerated, certain metals might be released into the air or can concentrate in the ash produced by the combustion process. In addition, batteries may produce the following potential problems or hazards when not properly disposed off. Batteries pollute the lakes and streams as the metals vaporize into the air when burned.

They can contribute to heavy metals that potentially may leach from solid waste landfills. They expose the environment and water to lead and acid. They contain strong corrosive acids which cause burns or danger to eyes and skin. In landfills, heavy metals have the potential to leach slowly into soil, groundwater or surface water. Dry cell batteries contribute about 88 percent of the total mercury and 50 percent of the cadmium in the municipal solid waste stream. In the past, batteries accounted for nearly half of the mercury and over half of the mercury and cadmium in the municipal solid waste stream.

When burned, some heavy metals such as mercury may vaporize and escape into the air, and cadmium and lead may end up in the ash. As one of the most ubiquitous crops in the world, the potato is poised to feed the entire world. Along the way, scientists discovered that the popular staple of many people’s diets may also have potential to help power it as well. The potato is starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial nightshade . The word “potato” may refer either to the plant itself or the edible tuber. The potato contains vitamins and minerals, as well as an assortment of phytochemicals, such as carotenoids and natural phenols. Chlorogenic acid constitutes up to 90% of the potato tuber natural phenols. But besides being rich in phosphoric acid, spuds are ideal in that they’re composed of sturdy starch tissue, can be stored for months and won’t attract insects.

Aside from this, potatoes are used to brew alcoholic beverages such as vodka, potcheen, or akvavit.They are also used as food for domestic animals. Potato starch is used in the food industry as, for example, thickeners and binders of soups and sauces, in the textile industry, as adhesives, and for the manufacturing of papers and boards. Maine companies are exploring the possibilities of using waste potatoes to obtain polylactic acid for use in plastic products; other research projects seek ways to use the starch as a base for biodegradable packaging. Potato skins, along with honey, are a folk remedy for burns in India. Burn centers in India have experimented with the use of the thin outer skin layer to protect burns while healing. Potatoes (mainly Russets) are commonly used in plant research.

The consistent parenchyma tissue, the clonal nature of the plant and the low metabolic activity provide a very nice “model tissue” for experimentation. Wound-response studies are often done on potato tuber tissue, as are electron transport experiments. In this respect, potato tuber tissue is similar to Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans and Escherichia coli: they are all “standard” research organisms. The potential problems or hazards caused by battery when not properly disposed off, not to mention the way it pollutes the lakes and streams as the metals vaporize into the air when burned, its contribution to heavy metals that potentially may leach from solid waste landfills, the exposure of the environment and water to lead and acid and the strong corrosive acids which cause burns or danger to eyes and skin when not properly disposed off drove the researchers to look for better alternative in producing electricity.

Statement of the Problem:
This study aims to determine if potatoes could be potential battery alternatives. Specifically, it sought to answer the: 1. Can potato be used to generate electricity?
2. Is the potato an ideal and practical alternative for batteries?

Potato juice contains many water soluble chemicals that may cause a chemical reaction with one or both of the electrodes. Therefore, the presence of potato juice can produce electricity.

Significance of the Study:
This study aims to lessen the problems and hazards caused by battery to our environment by using potato as battery alternatives. It also wanted to confirm if potatoes can generate electricity and be an ideal and practical alternative for batteries. The findings of this study may be of great importance to these people along with the possibilities: Government. This study will be very beneficial to the government. It will help them produce electricity naturally thus, eliminating pollution, hazards, environmental problems and electricity crisis. Investors. This study will ensure the investors who put up business in the Philippines that there will be no more electricity problems in our country. As a result, they will have a vast production and higher income. Potato Farmers. This study will inspire them to grow more potatoes which will not only be used to feed the Filipino people but will also light the whole nation. Scope and Limitations:

For this study, the researchers used 10 potatoes, 10 five centavo coins, galvanized metal sheets, copper wire, alligator clips, LED bulb, wall clock, tester and pliers.

Definition of Terms:
To have a better and clear understanding of the content of the study and in order to establish common frame of reference between the researchers and the readers, the following terms are defined operationally: Current. Rate of flow of electrons

Electric Potential. The capacity to empower the whole circuit Potato. Potato refers to starchy tuberous edible crop
Power. Electric power
Parallel Circuit. A closed electrical circuit in which the current is divided into two or more paths and then returns via a common path to complete the circuit Series Circuit. A circuit having its parts connected serially circuit, electric circuit, electrical circuit an electrical device that provides a path for electrical current to flow.

Chapter 2

A battery, which is actually an electric cell, is a device that produces electricity from a chemical reaction. Strictly speaking, a battery consists of two or more cells connected in series or parallel, but the term is generally used for a single cell. A cell consists of a negative electrode; an electrolyte, which conducts ions; a separator, also an ion conductor; and a positive electrode. The electrolyte may be aqueous (composed of water) or nonaqueous (not composed of water), in liquid, paste, or solid form. When the cell is connected to an external load, or device to be powered, the negative electrode supplies a current of electrons that flow through the load and are accepted by the positive electrode. When the external load is removed the reaction A potato battery is a type of electrochemical cell. An electrochemical cell converts chemical energy into electrical energy.

In the potato battery, there is a transfer of electrons between the zinc coating the galvanized nail that will be inserted into the potato and the copper wire that will be inserted another part of the potato. The potato conducts electricity, yet keeps the zinc ions and copper ions separate, so that the electrons in the copper wire are forced to move (generate current). It’s not enough power to shock you, but the potato can run a small digital clock. 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.

According to Haim Rabinowitch , co-researcher, the technology is ready to go.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. Potatoes are the world’s fourth most abundant food crop. Teo Sanchez, 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”. But he 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.

Chapter 3

The researchers used materials which are readily available in the market.
The following are the materials used for this study:
10 pieces of potatoes
10 pieces of 5 centavo coins
Galvanized metal sheet
Copper wire
Alligator chip
LED bulb
Wall clock

Wash the potatoes. Rinse and dry them using towel. Insert the galvanized metal sheet to the potato. Insert one 5 centavo coin to the potato. Create a series of connections. Do the same procedure to the other nine potatoes. Prepare the LED bulb and connect it to the series. Observe the LED. It turned on. Try to connect the series to a wall clock, observe. The hand of the clock moved.

Chapter 4


The potato battery made the LED bulb turned on. The potatoes did not get hotter or stream. The time did not go faster than normal. The potatoes worked as batteries because of chemical reaction. There is acid inside the potatoes. Acid supplied the negative charge while the copper have the positive charge. Together they made an electric current. Electricity is the result of a chemical reaction. The 5 centavo coin is copper, while the galvanized metal sheet is coated in zinc. When zinc, which is negatively charged, comes into contact with an acid, electrons are freed in a chemical reaction. Copper, which is positively charged, accepts those electrons, thereby creating an electric circuit.

Significant findings led to the following conclusions:
1. Potatoes can be potential battery alternatives.
2. Potatoes can be used to generate electricity.
3. Potatoes are ideal and practical alternative for batteries since they are readily available in the market.

In the light of significant findings and conclusions of the study, the
researchers highly recommend the following:

1. The government should invest on alternative ways to create electricity thus making the lives of Filipinos more comfortable, enjoying the electricity without paying too much. 2. Science teachers and educators should seriously look into more studies, search for new methods and ideas. 3. Pupils and young scientists/inventors should continue to research and improve substitute or alternative products which will benefit the entire Philippines. 4. Further studies of similar purpose and nature may be conducted to create an alternative electricity – not only batteries- which is cheaper than we have now.

Division of City Schools
Dandan Street, Tondo, Manila
Telefax: 2568368



The researchers would like to extend their deepest gratitude to the following people:

Mrs. Brinilda Ocampo, their Science teacher, for her valuable suggestions, advice and encouragement that provided the researchers the endurance and determination to go on and finish this study; Mrs. Susan B. Espiritu, Master Teacher in Science, for her patience in going through the paper and tirelessly giving valuable comments and insights; Mrs. Margarita T. Ocampo, Master Teacher in Science, and all Science teachers for the motherly advice and motivation they gave to the researchers; Mrs. Eleodora B. Vergara, our school principal, for her assistance and encouraging words to the
researchers; To their classmates and friends, for the cooperation, friendliness, moral support and prayers; To their parents and teachers, for the untiring financial support and guidance. They are truly the researchers’ source of inspiration and strength. Above all to the powerful name of Almighty God, to whom the researchers trust and entrusted everything.

The study in its present form is the result of the chemical experimentation of potato which can be an alternative source of electric current as in a battery. The initial idea was to determine whether potato can produce electricity or not. Potatoes were used in the experiment because they have substances which change chemical energy into electrical energy. By using a series or parallel circuit, a conductor like a copper was inserted to the fruit to allow the electrical current to flow. The following findings were drawn: 1. Potatoes can be potential battery alternatives. 2. Potatoes can be used to generate electricity. 3. Potatoes are ideal and practical alternative for batteries since they are readily available in the market.

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