Sunday, June 20, 2010

You say potato, I say...battery?

Saw something interesting in the news on a potato battery. Its a Zn-Cu battery with the two rods inserted into a potato. Why is this new? The authors say that they boiled the potato and were able to get less resistance and more power! I swear I'm not making this up.
Check out for the abstract. They say its cheaper than a AA battery and can be used to power a low-power LED light. I have not dug into the numbers to see if the cost claims are right. It would seem that with the low power that one gets from each cell you will need a lot of potatoes; the authors say they need 5.
My dad is visiting us from India and is sitting across from me. He tells me that 5 potatoes in India costs Rupees 15 (~30 cents). He tells me that a AA battery is either a bit cheaper or comparable! And I still need to buy some zinc and copper (and a pot to boil the potatoes, and spend some money heating it)
I get the impression that this is sort of a cute press release of something we already know and I wonder if it solves anything. I have to boil the potato and so need energy; I gain a means of making electricity, but I lose food to do that. And we really need someone from countries in the developing world to tell us if the cost numbers are what my dad tells me they are in India.
Anyway... could not resist.



  1. Perhaps this really boils down to whether this potato can be a secondary battery and it has a good 'green' aspect to recycle or consume(!?) when it comes to cost comparison?? Lifetime might also be an issue... just food for thought. Nice job on cutting the potatoes in uniform shape.

  2. potato cost in india varies from state to state and 10 to 15 Rs per kg. I think the cost involved in making cooked potato batteries (depends on which source u use to heat, LPG/Kerosene/MW) will be around 20-25Rs !!! Isn't it costly for indian market? I think AA batteries will be more cheaper than this!!!