Is Grapefruit Really An Alternative Energy Source?
Image by exfordy via Flickr
The grapefruit is a pretty amazing food that is not only scrumptious to eat but provides a ton of vitamins and minerals and even has cancer preventing antioxidants and enzymes. Like all citrus fruits grapefruits are packed with Vitamin C too.
But did you know that in some cases a grapefruit can also generate electricity? Now don't rush down to your next auto show and expect to find a grapefruit powered hybrid, but it's true, grapefruits can generate electricity chemically. Actually any fruit that has enough acid in it can do the same thing but it's a pretty neat trick and one your kids might be interested in trying.
Electricity from grapefruit operates on the same theory that most commercial batteries do. Essentially it's the placing of copper and zinc into an acid that generates the current. If you want to teach your kids this theory or you just are simply amazed yourself, you can demonstrate it using some simple items that you can pick up at the hardware store.
What you're going to need is a medium sized grapefruit, a two inch copper screw or nail, a two inch zinc screw or nail, a Christmas light bulb with about three inches of lead wires coming off it and a little electrical tape. Okay you may have to sacrifice a string of Christmas lights to get the bulb and the lead wires but anything for your kid's education right?Another little hint. If you have LED Christmas lights they work better than the standard light as they require less juice. That's electrical juice not grapefruit juice.
Prepare the grapefruit by rolling it around on a hard flat surface. The idea is to get it good and juicy inside the peel. If you tear or puncture the skin you're going to need a new grapefruit so have one on standby. Once the grapefruit is “juiced” you're ready to insert the anode and diode.Insert the copper screw or nail leaving enough above the skin so you can attach the lead wire. Ideally the tip of the nail should be in about the center of the grapefruit. You want to do the same with the zinc nail positioning it about two inches apart from the copper nail.
Strip the lead wire so you have enough bare wire to wrap around the nail. Attach the wires to the nails and use electrical tape to hold it in place if need be. Voila, the light lights up. Unfortunately, grapefruit probably isn't going to end our energy crisis but this little experiment can make science fun and can show the versatility of grapefruit, oranges, and other citrus fruits.