With the increasing cost of electricity and fast depleting energy sources, everyone today is looking for alternative ways to generate power. But while everyone is busy installing the now-famous solar panels, which are still very expensive, some are starting to discover the power of foods to produce electricity. Yes, you’ve read that right! The good news is that these super foods can just easily be found in your own kitchen. So without further ado, here’s a list of powerful foods that you can use as an alternative energy source.
A quick disclaimer: The following projects involve the use of electricity, which can be very dangerous. If you do attempt any of these experiments, do so at your own risk.
Top 10 Electricity-Producing Foods
We all know that salt has many great uses, particularly when it comes to cooking. But this popular food seasoning can also be used to light up a bulb, or depending on the amount of energy produced, can even be used to power an entire building! It sounds impossible, but it’s true!
In chemical terms, salt is an ionic compound that consists of positive ions (Na+) and negative ions (Cl-). Ionic compounds are usually in the form of solid crystals. If you look closely at a salt crystal, you’ll see that it looks like a little shining block. This solid crystal does not conduct electricity because the ions are tightly held together, restricting the flow of current. But when it’s melted, it gives the ions an opportunity to flow freely and carry charges. So when you put salt in water for instance, the positive and negative ions break apart and move freely in the solution. These ions carry electric charges, making the solution conductive.
Pickles contain lots of saltwater as they are brined in high-sodium solution. And as you now already know, saltwater is rich with charged ions, making it a good conductor of electricity. If you apply voltage to a pickle, the ions present in the fruit get excited, causing the pickle to glow – plus, cooking it at the same time. The higher the salt content of the pickle, the better power it will generate. Cool, right? Pickle-shaped sodium lamps for garden décor? Why not? But be very careful, though. And don’t eat the cooked pickle! Other foods that are soaked in brine, such as watermelons, can also conduct electricity due to their sodium content.
Have you already experienced running out of a battery and you don’t have a spare one to replace it? That’s definitely frustrating! But not for those who know the power of lemons! Yes, lemons can be used as an alternative to batteries. As we all know, lemons and other citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, contain citric acid. This acid has an ability to react with other metals, such as copper and zinc, and conduct electricity when dissolved in water.
You’re probably familiar about the lemon battery experiment, which is commonly taught in schools. The concept works similar to a conventional battery with electrodes and electrolytes. In the lemon battery, the acid in the lemon acts as the electrolyte. When two strips of metals (electrodes) are combined with the acid in the lemon, a chemical reaction triggers, which allows ions to travel freely and produce electricity. According to energyquest.ca.gov, a single lemon produces about 0.7 volt of electricity. If you use two or more lemons, you’ll be able to power low-power devices, such as watches and calculators. And what if you connect a hundred lemons together? Just imagine how much power you can produce!
OK, so now you know that when life hands you lemons, instead of making lemonade, make a lemon battery! But what if it doesn’t work? Don’t fret. Just try the alternative – make a potato battery! Known as one of the most popular staple foods in the world, potato has recently been discovered to have a potential to generate power.
Researcher Rabinowitch at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, together with his colleagues, performed an experiment regarding potato and discovered that a single potato can be used to power LED lamps for as long as one month! And according to the researchers, if a potato is boiled for 8 minutes, it could make for a battery with ten times the power of a raw one. The potato battery shares almost the same steps with the lemon battery. By inserting two pieces of metals, which act as electrodes, into a potato, a chemical reaction triggers, resulting in the production of electricity. Well, if you’re sick of potatoes, then try the next one.
Most of us love strawberries! They’re one of the most popular fruits in the world and most used ingredients in many kitchens, but interestingly, they’re also one of the top foods people throw away every day. You might be thinking that rotten strawberries no longer have use at all, but did you know that there are so many things you can do with your leftover strawberries? In fact, by tossing them in the garbage, you could be wasting lots of potential savings!
Well, aside from making your favorite ice cream and smoothies, rotten strawberries can be used to generate electricity! Yes, it may sound absurd, but it’s true! The Fremont Community Digester, which was built by NOVI Energy, is capable of converting food waste, particularly rotten strawberries, into usable energy. So instead of throwing your leftovers in the garbage, why not just throw them in the digester?
5 Electric Eels
As their name suggests, electric eels have the ability to generate powerful electric shocks. Their bodies contain at least 5,000 to 6,000 specialized cells that are capable of producing a shock of up to 600 volts! They use it as their defense against predators and as a way to communicate and hunt for prey. The energytrendsinsider.com states that the amount of charge that these powerful creatures produce is a good idea for an alternative energy. You just have to be careful though if you don’t want to get very ‘eel.’
If you don’t have any of those foods mentioned above, then try using vinegar instead, which is freely available almost everywhere. The principle is just almost the same. Since vinegar contains acid, acetic acid specifically, it has the ability to conduct electricity. The acid present in the vinegar acts as an electrolyte. Combining it with two different metals acting as electrodes, such as copper and zinc, will allow the ions to continuously move freely and generate electricity.
However, the amount of electricity produced will be small since the acetic acid present in vinegar is considered a weak acid. Most weak acids do not completely dissociate. And as you know, free-flowing ions are what carry charges through a solution.
Well, you probably know how amazing bananas are. Aside from their good taste, bananas also have great nutritional value, which can help overcome depression, fight stress, build strong bones, and protect your body against many diseases. But did you know that there’s more to bananas than their great taste and health benefits?
Bananas are packed with great amount of nutrients and energy that can be converted into methane, which can then be used for electricity production. In Australia, much of their banana crop gets wasted every year. But thanks to the modern technology and knowledge of researchers, they were able to convert banana waste into usable resource.
Corn is packed with great amount of carbohydrates, which is very useful for ethanol production. The ethanol produced from corn can be used to power engines and vehicles. In fact, nearly all motor gasoline sold in the United States is blended with 10 percent ethanol. In the U.S., around 14.2 billion bushels of corn were produced in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Corn grain makes a good biofuel source because of its high carbohydrate content and easy conversion to ethanol. But the government, related organizations, and experts are continuously making an effort to make it less expensive, improve its efficiency, and ensure its safety.
Aside from producing ethanol, corn is also great as an alternative heating system. In the U.S., many people use corn cobs to heat their homes. They burn them in a corn furnace or wood stove to generate heat. What’s best about them is they are cheaper and tend to burn slowly than woods. Plus, they generate more heat while producing fewer emissions.
As we all know, sugar is our body’s main source of energy. But a few years from now, it could become our world’s main source of fuel. Just recently, a group of researchers at Virginia Tech created a sugar-powered fuel cell that has an energy storage density of 596 amp hours per kilogram, or ten times more of lithium batteries. It is refillable with a sugar solution, known as maltodextrin, which is not only safe, but cheap and eco-friendly as well.
However, the study is still being improved; but once it becomes fully developed, we’ll all soon be charging our phones and other gadgets using a sugar solution! Amazing, right? And if these geniuses fully discovered how to better harness power from this amazing food additive, we might be able to also use this biobattery to power our televisions and other high-end electronics and machines.