1. Introduction

I. Introduction

1.1 Background Research:


Light Poverty
1.6 billion people around the world live in the dark without electricity, using alternative sources of lighting such as kerosene lamps. These types of light source are environmentally unfriendly, releasing CO2 and contributing to global warming, hazardous to health by releasing smoke and other chemicals that harm the body and most importantly of all, do not provide much light.

Because of these dangers and inefficiency in energy conversion to light, children in developing countries that belong to poorer families such as those in Africa, are unable to properly study at night, having to strain their eyes in the ambient lighting of the kerosene lamp and battle against the feeling of falling asleep as well as unknowingly breathing in toxic fumes detrimental to their health.

Because of this, our project aims to bring a cleaner power source that is cheaper, renewable and more readily accessible by these families and their children in Africa.

Our Selected Solution
Internet user Gasperi (2013) wrote about how Rochelle Salt crystals could be used to generate power (Gasperi, 2013). YouTuber lasersaber (2013) made a video on using these rochelle salt crystals as a battery to power a fan. However, we could not find the materials to make said batteries and thus could not conduct our experiment using these crystals. Hence, we were forced to find another solution to our problem.

Light Up Africa (n.d.) wrote about solar power, specifically mentioning with solar powered lamps, being used as method in bringing light to those whom don’t have it. However, they mentioned that the market penetration for solar power was “meagre” (Light Up Africa, n.d.). This conclusion was further supported by internet user Lule (2013) who is the founder of the team that created the first solar lantern made in Africa. A post was placed IndieGoGo to raise funds for their project. They only raised $522 USD out of their $50,000 USD goal. They then started a second campaign fundraiser, which raised $8,379 USD out of their $30,000 USD goal (Lule, 2013).

Kalan (2013) wrote on an article that for the past few years, researcher Rabinowitch and colleagues have been pushing the idea of “potato power” to deliver energy to people cut off from electricity grids. They found that by boiling the potato for 10 minutes, they were able to increase the power output of the potato. Rabinowitch and colleagues argue to “hook up a spud to a couple of cheap metal plates, wires and LED bulbs and it could provide lighting to remote towns and villages around the world” (Kalan, 2013).

To further boost that point, pack a lot of power. Hershey, D. (2003) wrote that the potato generates more power than a lemon due to their higher levels of potassium.

Potatoes are easily accessible by third-world countries. Potatoes South Africa (n.d.) showed that potatoes were grown and exported in South Africa and are also available on the local market (Potatoes South Africa, n.d.).

Thus, selecting potatoes to make our batteries fulfilled our requirements of readily available and renewable power source.

What sealed the deal was the method of creating the potato batteries. User Craftknowitall (2012) used potatoes, galvanized nails and copper to power an LED, which inspired us to use a similar idea for our project. Besides that, it also showed how easy it was to create a potato battery.

Hence, we decided to base the project on generating sustainable, clean power using potatoes. After more consideration, the project was changed to finding the ways of maximizing the amount of power a potato produces. More specifically, the factors that affect the power output of a potato.

1.2 Research Question

What variables affect the power generated by a potato battery?

1.3 Hypothesis:


  1. If a larger, skinned and boiled potato is used for a potato battery, then that potato battery will produce more electricity than the other potato batteries.

1.3.1 Independent Variables:


These are the 3 independent variables in our experiment:
  1. The size of the potato.
  2. Whether the potato is raw or cooked.
  3. Whether the potato has skin or no skin.

1.3.2 Dependent Variables:


  1. The amount of power output given by the potato

1.3.3 Constants


  1. Type of potato
  2. General size of potato
  3. Type of materials used in potato battery
  4. Apparatus used in conducting experiment
  5. Temperature of boiling water
  6. Boiling time of water and potato

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