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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 Potato Batteries Work
 

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.

How Potato Batteries Work
 
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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.

Random In The Forums

rainbowpoptart
"KingShawn13" wrote:I find the whole concept of this forum... disturbing and also slightly funny. But I think the Frankenstein car theory is the most plausible. Or he's about to be taken to Panda Express which explains the look of discomfort. Shrimp Fried Kitty anyone?  oh my god 
reply 7 minutes
KingShawn13
I find the whole concept of this forum... disturbing and also slightly funny. But I think the Frankenstein car theory is the most plausible. Or he's about to be taken to Panda Express which explains the look of discomfort. Shrimp Fried Kitty anyone?
reply about 6 hours
rainbowpoptart
"Unrung" wrote:Well if you ask me, it's pretty obvious: the cat and the basket are one. Fused together in some freak accident in a science lab. See, it's screaming because it has to deal with the perpetual existential question of why it was created, to which it can find no comforting answer. why why why why why why why (seeing that word so much makes it look weird. hm.)
reply about 10 hours
Unrung
Unrung posted in Say Anything:
Well if you ask me, it's pretty obvious: the cat and the basket are one. Fused together in some freak accident in a science lab. See, it's screaming because it has to deal with the perpetual existential question of why it was created, to which it can find no comforting answer.
reply about 11 hours
Pink_Cool_Girl
Pink_Cool_Girl posted in General:
Swimming, maybe playing some fun sports. But don't get overheated- Stay inside too sometimes!I quote from Diary of a Wimpy Kid:"People expect you to be frolicking around in the summer. And when you don't, they thing something I wrong with you."
reply about 13 hours