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Q & A: What other fruits can make a 'lemon battery'?

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Q:
I am doing a science project on demonstrating the ability of lemons and other fruits to produce electricity. Since I have to have information to back up my experiment, I wanted to know, what about the lemon makes it produce electricity? Also, what other fruits are good to use in place of the lemon? Thank you for your time.
- Jonathan
Uniondale, LI, NY
A:
Jonathan -

As to how/why a lemon battery works, check out our Potato Battery answer on how they work and how to make them. (Potato batteries work exactly the same way as lemon batteries do.) Basically what happens to produce the electricity has virtually nothing to do with the lemon itself. It's the reaction between the zinc and copper metals that produces electricity. The lemon just acts as a medium in which the zinc and copper ions can interact. (Check out the link above for a better explanation of this.)

As for what foods can be used, almost any fruit or vegetable should work. (Naturally something like lettuce or cabbage will not allow for the interaction of these two metals, but tomatoes, oranges, and other foods should work just fine.) Lemons and potatoes are just the most commonly used ones. It's difficult to say exactly which ones are "best," since it mostly depends on how you set it up. But if you're very careful, it shouldn't be too difficult to try it at home and see! Good luck!

-Tamara

(published on 06/06/09)

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