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MacGyver it up!

Got 500 pounds of potatoes lying around? Need AA batteries, but can’t find any? You’re in luck!

I built a potato battery out of 500 pounds of potatoes. It powered a small sound system. With the help of the Red 76 crew I installed the battery and sound system in the back of a U-Haul truck and drove it around town inviting people to enter the truck and take a listen.

Batteries work by allowing electrons to pass from one electrode to another. In this case the potato provides phosphoric acid, which enables a chemical reaction causing electrons flow from copper to zinc. The zinc came from galvanized nails and copper came from small pieces of copper. You don’t have to use potatoes; any acidic medium such as citrus fruit will work. I chose potatoes because they are traditional and cheap.

Each potato generates about 0.5 volts and 0.2 milliamperes. I connected groups of potatoes together in series to increase voltage and then connected these groups together in parallel to increase amperage. The entire 500 lb battery generated around 5 volts and 4 milliamperes.

Don’t eat potatoes after using them for a battery.

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4 Replies to “MacGyver it up!”

  1. Grant

    I once had instructions for making a battery out of a lemon (it involved zinc washers and copper wiring), but I never tried it because I didn’t care.

    It kind of reminds me of my army days when guys would sit around and discuss homemade bomb recipes. I had to jump in and say “You know what also works? C-4. That stuff that we carry around with us in the vehicle.”

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