Is it possible to produce electricity from common fruit or vegetables? Fruits and vegetables require energy from the sun to grow and produce a harvest. Is it possible that some of the sun's energy is stored in the produce for our use? We know that by eating fruits and vegetables our body can convert this food to energy. Is it possible to directly generate electricity from a piece of fruit or a vegetable. This lemon battery and potato battery science experiment tests this theory.
- Copper strip or rod
- Zinc strip or zinc-coated bolt
- Circuit wire or alligator clips with wire
Step 1: Cut 2 small slits in the skin of both the lemon and the potato. Make the slits are a few inches apart.
Step 2: Push the copper and zinc strips into the slits in each piece of produce. Make sure the rods do not touch each other.
Step 3: Connect an electrical wire to the end of each metal strip. Alligator clips make this step easy.
Step 4: Measure the voltage drop between the two wires attached to the metal strips on the lemon and the potato. This is the amount of voltage being produced by each piece of produce. Compare the difference in the amount of voltage produced by a lemon and a potato. What do you notice? How long will the fruit and vegetable generate voltage?
The lemon and the potato act like a low-power battery. This experiment shows how a wet cell battery works. Chemicals in the fruit or vegetable create a negative charge in the zinc strip. Electrons move into the zinc strip and travel up the wire attached. The electrons then travel through the voltmeter which measures the voltage drop and end up in the copper strip which becomes the positive end of the circuit. Pardon the pun, but from this experiment we can say that it is possible to "produce electricity".
Oberlin College: Demonstration of lemon battery powering a buzzer.
U.S. Dept. of Energy: Calculating Lemon Battery Power Q&A
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