Wondering Why?

Why do Potatoes produce Electricity?

Why do potatoes produce electricity?

Potato batteries – who would have thought that potatoes can generate electricity and become a battery than can turn on small light bulbs and even clocks? Fascinating, isn’t it? Most of us have seen this one in science experiments conducted in school laboratories or have watched it on science programs in television.

Just to makes things clear, potatoes in general do not generate and do not store electricity. What potatoes do have that can help transfer energy is its soluble chemical property which may cause a chemical reaction between specific materials and then work as an electrochemical cell. Potatoes have stored chemical energy which in return can be converted to electrical energy that can power a small light bulb or run a clock.

Potatoes are composed of starches, salt and water. The salt inside the potato is what interacts with water and releasing two electrically charged ions: a positively charged sodium ion and a negatively charged chlorine ion.

We all know that positive and negative electrical charges attract one another and this same attraction reacts when combined with specific materials such as zinc or copper, causing the flow of electrical current or basically, electricity.

To use this energy, certain types of metals such as zinc and copper are needed. These two metals when inserted into a potato can create a chemical reaction that generates electric current or kinetic energy (electricity) to flow. Wires are then connected from the zinc and copper metals to a small light bulb to complete the electrical circuit and allow the electricity to flow thus resulting in potato batteries.

In conclusion, potatoes do not directly produce electricity. The chemical composition of the potato when combined with zinc in metals together with copper is what causes a reaction between the released positively charged and negatively charged ions of the potato resulting in the flow of electricity.

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