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Fruit-Power Battery

Convert chemical energy from the acid in a lemon into electrical energy

Rating: 43211

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Voltaic batteries of all shapes and sizes are objects that convert chemical energy into electrical energy. You probably use batteries to power your cell phone, iPod, or any number of wireless gadgets. But did you know that you can actually use chemical energy stored within a lemon to power a small LED light? It's true, and we'll show you exactly how in the Fruit-Power Battery experiment.

Materials
  • Four lemons (the bigger and juicier the better)
  • Four pennies
  • Five zinc-galvanized nails
  • Five sets of alligator clips
  • LED light
  • Kitchen knife

Videos

  • Fruit-Power Battery - Sick Science! #080
Print Experiment

Experiment

  1. Use a kitchen knife to cut a penny-sized slit in all four lemons.
  2. Insert a penny halfway into each of the four slits that you cut.
  3. Push a zinc-galvanized nail into each of the lemons, opposite the penny. Be sure you don’t let the nail and penny touch each other.
  4. Connect all four lemons together with alligator clips. Each set of alligator clips should connect a nail with a penny.
  5. Attach the two loose alligator clips to the LED light.
  6. Check that out! The energy from the lemons lights up the LED.

How Does It Work?

Batteries are comprised of two different metals suspended in an acidic solution. With the Fruit-Power Battery, the two metals are zinc and copper. The zinc is in the galvanization of the nail, and the penny is actually copper-plated zinc. The acid comes from the citric acid inside the lemon.
 
The two metal components are electrodes, the parts of a battery where electrical current enters and leaves the battery. With a zinc and copper set-up, the current will flow out of the penny and into the nail. The electricity also passes through the acidic solution inside the lemon.
 
Once the Fruit-Power Battery is connected to the LED, you create a complete circuit. As the electrical current passes through the LED, it lights the LED, and passes back through all of the lemons.

Customer Reviews

Fruit Power Battery Review by jumar
54321

It really works. use a 5 peso coin because it is made up of 70% copper and 24.5% zinc and use a galvanized nail not other else and check the connection of your wires

(Posted on September 8, 2012)

WORKED FOR OUR LARGE HOMESCHOOL SCIENCE CLASS! Review by Kirsten
43211

This is a great project and worked well for our class. A couple things to help have success:
Warm the lemons up by soaking them in hot water, that will make the juices flow, we made sure we had good juice flow by also lightly bruising them on the table.
Use pennies from 1979 and before for higher copper content.
IF the LED doesn't light up simply unhook from the light and turn the light around and try again, the current needs to flow in the correct direction to light it.
Darken your room. Or we used boxes turned on their sides to create a shadowed area.

(Posted on February 28, 2013)

to Liz again Review by Eva
54321

and did you use galvanized nails or stainless nails, which would not work?

(Posted on April 26, 2012)

Voltage for the LED light? Review by Brylyn
43211

Anyone have a specific voltage that they used? I have 3.3 volts, but they don't seem to be lighting up. Thanks.

(Posted on October 8, 2012)

Great simple experiment Review by Mafrlene Thomas
54321

I am the Director of an afterschool program serving kids kindergarten through 5th grade. Each week I do a science experiment for "Really Really Wierd Science". This experiment was a segway into a month of electricity and the kids absolutely loved it. I do not try the experiments beforehand and am always concerned if they will work. No problems with this! I added a fiber optic to the bulb for some added effect. This week we made the battery...next week we make the bulb!

(Posted on April 4, 2012)

Lemon Battery Problem Review by Brooke
54321

I am doing this in our science fair and for some reason it wont work. We have a voltage tester but in one lemon its in the 500`s and on two its in the 1400`s!! I dont know why. :l

(Posted on May 29, 2012)

the type of led light matters Review by Bam
43211

I tried an old christmas light and it didn't work. So I used a 1.8 volt 5mm light from the source and it worked perfectly it stayed lite for over3 hours

(Posted on January 12, 2013)

No light for us Review by Payton
32121

We were unable to get this experiment to work. We used the 5mm 1.8 volt LED light and even increased the number of lemons all the way up to 7! We checked the voltage of the circuit created from the lemons and it had ample voltage (3.9 v) but would still not light up the bulb. We verified that the bulb worked by using the an alligator clip & connecting it to two AA batteries which caused it to light up. We have no idea what went wrong....

(Posted on February 21, 2013)

to Liz Review by Eva
54321

Liz, did you try a different LED light?

(Posted on April 25, 2012)

Other Items Review by Keely
43211

Can anyone tell me any other lights or item that would work in this circuit as well?

(Posted on July 18, 2012)

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