GardenDrumPowerful potatoes & plaintains


The humble potato or plantain banana could soon be providing developing countries with ‘make it yourself’ battery power in remote areas.

Plantain in Kerala Photo by Vinayaraj

Plantain in Kerala Photo by Vinayaraj

Scientists in both Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka are working to commercialise results from a 2010 Israeli-USA study showing that vegetable slices between zinc and copper plates can be twice as efficient as a 1.5V battery and 26 times cheaper. Saudi researchers have improved on the original study, and found that an 18mm thick slice of potato produces optimal results.

The Sri Lankan scientists chose to develop the plantain pith alternative as it is cheaper, environmentally friendly and readily available in most tropical countries. They plan to produce plantain batteries in A, AA, AAA and 9V sizes.

Alex Golberg, US scientist on the original study, commented “We decided not to patent this technology to avoid barriers to the wide-scale adaptation of our battery in [these] countries”.

How wonderful to hear of open source technology being made freely available to those who need it.

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