I think these re-searchers stole my kindergarten project. I have a concept design...could de-hydrate these potatoes and then burn them in a thermal generator. Would get a lot more power output mind you you could just put a couple of solar cells in its place and still be ahead. It looks like it is powering a LED diode. I pretty much think that it would be much more necessary to EAT these potatoes rather than power a led.
[citation][nom]jonibrasco[/nom]didnt I do this in science class 20 yrs ago?[/citation]
Amen borther/sister - I thought of the same thing. This is a grade 9 science experiment - and yes, it was the exact same set-up and produced the same outcome. Maybe some major detail was left out by Tom's?
This is NOT renewable energy. The energy comes from the fact that the zinc was reduced from its oxide using carbon. The method poisons the potato with zinc ions yet uses none of the renewable energy in the carbohydrate of the potato. If the same zinc was used in a regular battery, the used battery could be recycled, but here the zinc ions are injected straight into the biosphere. The author's claims about the cost benefits are downright dishonest. They compare buying one battery from the most expensive retailer I have seen with raw metal prices in the London Metal Exchange. This battery could not even recover the energy needed to boil the potato in the first place. Here is a professor doing schoolboy experiments and dressing them up as a solution to the energy problems of the third world. Really all he is proposing is a way of poisoning the ground, or worse, an unsuspecting hungry person
I read the Hot Hardware article thinking something was left out, but nope. Seems the research focuses solely on boiling the potato to produce a better electrolyte. This is definitely grade school stuff, the potato is not the energy source, and a magnesium-copper reaction would be better, but zinc is easier to obtain. Notice how many potato "cells" are used for the LED, which is about all you could power with such a minuscule amperage. I'm guessing an output of maybe 5 milliwatts?
The superficial appeal of this new invention is great. The technology will have niche applications in potato rich/resource poor regions of the world, Eastern Europe perhaps ??? The opportunity cost of using edible food for electricity generation rather than calories will depend on the setting. Vegetable power will never fill the global energy void. Other solutions should be sought.
Nuclear energy is a boon for humankind. There are energy deficits all throughout the world. Without reliable energy streams a nation cannot raise its general welfare. Israel runs on 7000 MW per capita; Norway 24,000 MW. Colder climates need more energy; Haiti 80 MW. No explanation needed. The potential of nuclear desalination plants is also profound. A literal Ganeden down here on terra firma is predicated on the supply of reliable energy sources. There is enormous energy able to be unlocked in a single atom. The universe is full of energy. G-d’s power is limitless. The matrix of abundance lies within our reach. All it requires is the right moves.