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How Potato Batteries Work

Potatoes are great mashed, roasted, baked or in clocks. That's right, potatoes are nature's tastiest battery. Check out the 411 on the science behind this powerfully delicious snack.

How to Make a Potato Battery

Making a clock run on potato power is easier that you might think. This project is easy, bizarre and makes a sweet science fair project or chemistry experiment. Who knew potatoes could be so empowering?

What You Need:

  • Two Potatoes
  • Two short pieces of heavy copper wire
  • Two common galvanized nails
  • Three alligator clip/wire units (alligator clips connected to each other with wire)
  • One simple low-voltage LED clock that functions from a 1- to 2-volt button-type battery

Steps:

  1. Remove the battery from the battery compartment of the clock.
  2. Make a note of which way around the positive (+) and a negative (-) points of the battery went.
  3. Number the potatoes as one and two.
  4. Insert one nail in each potato.
  5. Insert one short piece of the copper wire into each potato as far away from the nail as possible.
  6. Use one alligator clip to connect the copper wire in potato number one to the positive (+) terminal in the clock's battery compartment.
  7. Use one alligator clip to connect the nail in potato number two to the negative (-) terminal in the clock's battery compartment.
  8. Use the third alligator clip to connect the nail in potato one to the copper wire in potato two and set the clock!

 

How the Potato Clock works

A potato battery is an electrochemical battery, otherwise known as an electrochemical cell. An electrochemical cell is a cell in which chemical energy is converted to electric energy by a spontaneous electron transfer. In the case of the potato, the zinc in the nail reacts with the copper wire. The potato acts as a sort of buffer between the zinc ions and the copper ions. The zinc and copper ions would still react if they touched within the potato but they would only generate heat. Since the potato keeps them apart, the electron transfer has to take place over the copper wires of the circuit, which channels the energy into the clock. Presto! You have potato power.

 
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Fave Potato Dish? Vote!

  • Mmmmm... Mashed.
  • Yes I would like fries with that.
  • It's all about chips.
  • Roasted to perfection.

General In The Forums

rainbowpoptart
rainbowpoptart posted in Random:
Didn't seem all that great to me. Nothing's happened all day. :P A family friend got married under it in Montana, though, which is pretty awesome.
reply 3 minutes
Springstorm
Springstorm posted in Random:
Just 30 minutes ago, the solar eclipse of 2017 was at its peak. Meanwhile, I was watching from our backyard, flashing my eclipse glasses of and on. It was an  AMAZING  experience! So much so I typed "amazing" with bold, italic, and underlined full caps. Just when it began, I could see that little hole in the sun as the moon's shadow drifted along. When it reached totality, we took turns rapidly putting on the glasses. It was incredible to see the shadows of the trees turning into the shape of a crescent. So, what did you think of the eclipse? Put your thoughts in the comments.  [s:p/zxl]
reply about 3 hours
Ksaylor6
Ksaylor6 posted in Food:
soooooddddddaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!
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OwlCityGuy
OwlCityGuy posted in Food:
H2CO3
reply about 9 hours
snoopynwoodstock123
Prologue 0-3: Hello, Sister Despair Awkwardly making steps up to the first group, I decided to introduce myself to the first person in my line of sight- a boy with silvery hair, who appeared quite intimidating to me. "Uh... h-hello." I began, "My name's Misaki Yami. Who are you?" The boy's mysterious poker-face remained unmoving as he introduced himself. "Mitsuru Hirota." He simply said, with nothing more. MITSURU HIROTA SECONDARY FINE ARTIST Mitsuru Hirota, from what I know, is a highly-praised artist prodigy who earns quite a bit from his work. However, he rarely ever gives it up, despite it piquing the attention of multiple museums. In terms of furthering our conversation, he didn't seem to be the talkative type- so I moved on. The next person I noticed was a childish-looking blonde girl with huge blue eyes, grinning cheerily at me as I walked over. I didn't even get a chance to open my mouth as she started talking so quickly. "Hi! My name's Haru Uyeda." She chirped sweetly, "It's nice to meet you!" HARUMI UYEDA SECONDARY BALLERINA A girl like Haru really isn't difficult to know about; she's an exceptional ballerina, and has made it to both national and international performances. Astounding, considering her young age- and how she appears far younger, too. "So! So!" She stood up on her tiptoes to look me in the eye. "Who are you?" "I-I'm Misaki Yami," I smiled nervously. "It's nice to m-meet you too, Haru." A giggle escaped Haru's lips as she skipped away to someone else who called her over, waving. I couldn't help but wave back, feeling slightly bad that we didn't get to talk any more. I moved along to someone else- a boy with dark hair wearing almost all-red. He smiled pretty quickly, and I managed to get out my introduction before he did. "My name's Misaki Yami," I flatly stated. "Who are you?" "Oh! I'm Rin. Rin Okumura," the boy grinned as he ran a hand through his hair. RIN OKUMURA SECONDARY CHEF Rin, much like Ruka, was virtually inescapable in his medium. He's everywhere on cooking channels due to his young age and how well he came to the top of his career. "Uh, hey..." Rin suddenly said, a nervous edge now in his voice. "Did you wake up in a classroom? By yourself?" "Y-yeah. Why do you ask?" I raised an eyebrow. "Ah. That makes all of us, then." He smiled, trying to cover up his nerves, most likely. "Wh-what do you mean, all of us?" I tried not to yell, but I couldn't  help but raise my voice. "No need to get mad! I just..." Rin paused. "Well, everyone else here had the same happen. I'm hoping that this is all a big joke, honestly." I felt a little embarrassed after that, so I just nodded and left without another word. Honestly, this all being a big joke or dream would be great... well, I want to at least have a chance of entering Hope's Peak again, but... something about this made me uneasy. The next person I saw  was a black-haired girl, absentmindedly staring into nothing. She seemed... odd, to say the least, but I couldn't just go ignoring people. I walked over, and hesitated. She seemed completely undistracted by me, so how do I get her attention? I cautiously tapped her shoulder, and the girl snapped out of her daze in a shot. "Oh, sorry." The girl smiled politely. "I wasn't paying attention, huh? I'm Kurimuson, by the way. Kurimuson Amiria Sooyaa... call me Kuri." KURIMUSON AMIRIA SOOYAA SECONDARY CONTEMPORARY DANCER Kuri (her full name very... strange) is known mostly for her work in music videos and other video media as a dancer, and has quite a big following as far as the dance world goes. I was abruptly brought out of my thoughts by Kuri speaking again. "Hmm... what are you occupied about?" She raised an eyebrow, smirking. "Could it be...?" "Could it be what?" I instinctively snapped back, before covering my mouth; that warranted a giggle from the raven-haired girl. "Oh, nothing." She furtively grinned, "You may not understand, but it has something to do with our... predicament." The way Kuri spoke so casually about our situation felt suspicious in some way that I couldn't place. Ignoring her and saying a quick goodbye, I moved on to the fifth person in the group- who was quick to latch onto my hand. Looking up to see a fairly-attractive boy with red hair and a charming smile, I couldn't help but feel flustered. Well, who wouldn't? Quickly brushing him off, I asked him the same monotonous question whilst introducing myself in tedium. "It's nice to meet you, Misaki," the boy smiled comfortingly. "I'm Kaze Takenaka." KAZUKO TAKENAKA SECONDARY PASTRY CHEF Considering his young age, it's ridiculous to say that Kaze is pretty big in the world of baking. His food is of a pretty high standard, and though he doesn't work in big bakeries, he still has a reputable skill. "So, Misaki..." Kaze continued, "Do you... have your phone?" "I should..." I subconsciously felt around in my pocket, and... nothing. Where was it? Was it stolen? Panicking, I instinctively let out a dramatic "It's gone". "Oh, you too?" Kaze looked quite relieved. "I was so worried when I couldn't find mine... I just hope I get it back." "Me too... I really need it." I felt a little more relaxed to find out Kaze didn't have his, too. "Anyway, I should probably go... sorry." Saying a brief goodbye to Kaze, I turned on my heels toward the next person- a rather-pretty girl with long brown hair. "Before you go introducing yourself," the girl practically spat, "I'm not keen on talkative people." My eyes widened. She didn't seem like the nicest person, really, but... she might just be grumpy over what happened, if what Rin said is true. Even still, I didn't want to get on my bad side. "O-okay... I'm Misaki Yami." I felt nerves creep into my voice. "Toneyo Kikuchi. Nice to meet you or whatever." TONEYO KIKUCHI SECONDARY THEATRE ACTRESS Toneyo's name isn't uncommonly-seen on theatre billboards, as she's one of the most popular actresses in the country; she's constantly touring from what I know. Apparently, she might even make it to Broadway or the West End. "Can you stop standing around staring at me?" Toneyo's venomous voice brought me out of my thoughts. "You're getting on my nerves... at least you don't talk much." Deciding that it would be for the best that I leave her alone, I found myself face-to-face with the last person in the group: a girl who looked... odd, to say the least. Her hair in crazy colours and strange fashion sense... was she even human? "Hey, you alive in there?" She joked, "Earth to...?" "Misaki." I abruptly cut her off. "I-I'm Misaki Yami." "Well, nice to meet ya!" The girl grinned. "I'm Lauren Moon. Hope we can get along!" LAUREN MOON SECONDARY MYTHOLOGY RESEARCHER I'm not too big on history stuff, but apparantly Lauren Moon is one of the big names in that crowd. She knows everything there is to know about mythology, whether it's about ancient Greeks or ancient Egyptians. I soon noticed that Lauren was whispering to... herself? No- she was whispering to that pyramid necklace she was wearing. "Uhh... Lauren?" I questioned, "I hope you don't mind me asking, but... why are you talking to... a necklace?" "Necklace?!" Lauren appeared flustered. "This isn't a necklace, this is the Millenium Puzzle! I can communicate with Atem through it." That... sounded strangely familiar. Where had I heard that before? Again, after a few more questions, I moved away from Lauren. Well, that was the first group done... now onto the second. Who will I meet there?
reply about 10 hours