Annex A - Research Proposal (Science)

Names: Chua Shuei Ray Eusebius, Kang Shiqiang, Maximilian Oh Yangzhi
Class: S2-09
Group Reference: B

1.    Indicate the type of research that you are adopting:

[    ] Test a hypothesis: Hypothesis-driven research
e.g. Investigation of the antibacterial effect of chrysanthemum

[    ] Measure a value: Experimental research (I)
e.g. Determination of the mass of Jupiter using planetary photography

[ X ] Measure a function or relationship: Experimental research (II)
e.g. Investigation of the effect of temperature on the growth of crystals

[    ] Construct a model: Theoretical sciences and applied mathematics
e.g. Modeling of the cooling curve of naphthalene

[    ] Observational and exploratory research
e.g. Investigation of the soil quality in School of Science and Technology, Singapore  

[    ] Improve a product or process: Industrial and applied research
e.g. Development of a SMART and GREEN energy system for households  

2.    Write a research proposal of your interested topic in the following format:

Title: An investigation of the factors that affect the output of electricity from a potato.
A.    Question being addressed

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.

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.
B.    Goals/Expected Outcomes/Hypotheses

To see the factors that alter the amount of electricity given out by a potato powering a potato battery.

Expected Outcomes:

  1. The bigger the potato used for a potato battery, the larger the amount of electricity the potato battery produces since there is more “juice” (electrolytes) in the battery.
  2. A boiled potato will give out more electricity than a raw potato as when it is boiled, the amount of resistance the potato has decreases.
  3. It doesn’t matter whether a potato is with or without skin - it will still produce the same amount of electricity.


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

C.    Description in detail of method or procedures The following are important and key items that should be included when formulating ANY AND ALL research plans.

• Equipment list:
  1. 10 5 cm long Galvanized nails *
  2. 2 X 2 cm copper foil sheet
  3. 5 alligator clip wires
  4. 2 LED bulb *
  5. 1 Multimeter

  1. 1 Cutting Knife
  2. 2 White tiles
  3. 24 Potatoes *
    1. “Small” - 12 potatoes smaller in size.
    2. “Big” - 12 potatoes bigger in size.
  4. 10 pairs of Disposable Protective gloves for cutting and handling.
  5. 1 1000 ml beaker
  6. 1 Hot plate
  7. 3 Peelers*
  8. 1 Aluminium Sheet
*These items we will bring ourselves. All other items will be provided by the school labs.

• Procedures - Detail all procedures and experimental design to be used for data collection.

Preparation/Raw Skin Potato:
  1. Take a large or small potato and place firmly on a white tile.
  2. Slice potato into two halves. This will make two potato batteries of this type of potato.
  3. Place these 2 potato halves onto a clean white tile.
  4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 to create another 2 more of this potato type.

Boiled Skin Potato
  1. Fill 1000 ml beaker with 600 ml of water.
  2. Repeat steps 1 and 2 of “Preparation/Raw Skin Potato” stage.
  3. Use tongs to place the two potato halves fully submerged into water.
  4. Boil for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove potatoes using tongs.
  6. Place hot potato halves onto aluminium sheet for cooling.
  7. If possible, place the potatoes with aluminium sheet into a wet sink and spray with cool water to speed up cooling process.
  8. Once cool enough, transfer onto clean white tiles for testing.
  9. Repeat steps 1 to 8 to create another 2 potato halves.

Raw Peeled Potato
  1. Peel a large or small potato.
  2. Cut out the eyes of the potato.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 of “Preparation/Raw Skin Potato” stage.
  4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 to create another 2 potato halves.

Boiled Peeled Potato
  1. Repeat steps 1 to 2 of “Raw Peeled Potato” stage.
  2. Fill 1000 ml beaker with 600 ml of water.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 of “Preparation/Raw Skin Potato” stage.
  4. Use tongs to place the two potato halves fully submerged into water.
  5. Boil for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove potatoes using tongs.
  7. Place hot potato halves onto aluminium sheet for cooling.
  8. If possible, place potatoes with aluminium sheet into a wet sink and spray with cool water.
  9. Once cool enough, transfer onto clean white tiles for testing.
  10. Repeat steps 1 to 9 to create another 2 potato halves.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 9.19.48 am.png
Fig. 1 - Potato Battery Cross-section.

* Refer to Fig. 1
  1. Take a nail 5 cm long and push it 3 cm deep into a prepared potato half. *
  2. Cut a copper foil piece of 2 cm by 2 cm. *
  3. Cut a slit 1.5 cm deep and 2 cm wide with a knife into a prepared potato half. *
  4. Insert the copper foil into the slit. *
  5. Test the potato for electricity using the multimeter.
    1. Attach one end of a red alligator clip wire to the copper foil and one end of a black alligator clip wire to the nail.
    2. Attach the other end to the multimeter. Match the colours of the wires with the colours of the multimeter probes. (E.g. Black to Black, Red to Red.)
  6. Record down the results onto a table.
  7. Repeats steps 1 to 6 to test the other 3 prepared potato halves of this type.
ISS Potato Battery Series Circuit Set-Up.jpg
Fig. 2 - Potato Batteries Arranged in Circuit
* Refer to Fig. 2
  1. After recording the results for all 4 potato halves of one type separately, wire them together in a series circuit. *
  2. Test and record down the amount of voltage generated by all 4 potato halves.
  3. Disconnect the multimeter and wire the potato halves up to a LED bulb to see if it will light up. **
**Do not do so if the amount of voltage exceeds the voltage the LED bulb can handle.
  1. Record the results down onto a table.
  2. Repeat steps 8 to 11 for each batch of 4 prepared potato halves type.

• Data Analysis - Describe the procedures you will use to analyze the data/results that answer research questions or hypotheses.

  1. A voltmeter will be used to read the amount of voltage produced by each battery to determine which type of potato used in which battery setup created the most amount of power.
  2. Data collected will be collated into tables for hard data and bar charts to make any observable trends easier to observe.

D. Bibliography - List at least five (5) major references (e.g. science journal articles, books, internet sites) from your literature review. If you plan to use vertebrate animals, one of these references must be an animal care reference. Choose the APA format and use it consistently to reference the literature used in the research plan. List your entries in alphabetical order.

craftknowitall. (2012). Potato Battery Driven LED. Instructables. Retrivied July 7, 2014, from

Hershey, D. (2003). Re: WHY DO POTATOES CONDUCT MORE ELECTRICITY THAN LEMONS?. MadSci Network. Retrieved July 9, 2014 from

Ganderton. (n.d.). What is the average weight of an uncooked potato? Retrieved July 8, 2014 from

Kalan, J. (2013). Potato power: the spuds that could light the world. BBC. Retrieved July 6, 2014 from

laserssaber. (2013). 12V Crystal Cell Update + Alternative Construction Method. YouTube. Retrieved June 26th, 2014, from

Light Up Africa. (n.d.) IMAGINE LIVING IN THE DARK. Light Up Africa. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from

LuminAID. (n.d.). LuminAID Homepage. LuminAID. Retrieved July 12, 2014, from

Potatoes South Africa. (2014). Regional Services. Potatoes South Africa. Retrieved July 11, 2014, from

Lule, S. (2013). The first solar lantern made in Africa. IndieGoGo. Retrieved July 13, 2014, from
Lule, S. (2013). A solar lantern made in Africa. IndieGoGo. Retrieved July 13, 2014, from

USAID - Power Africa. (2014). POWER AFRICA. USAID. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from

World Health Organization. (2006). Fuel for Life - Household Energy and Health. Retrieved July 13, 2014, from

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