Can the World's Largest Lemon Battery Power a Race Car?

Jun 27 2018 -- 3:45 PM

Making a battery out of a lemon has been a popular school science experiment for decades, in part because it doesn't take an inordinate amount of effort. Simply adding copper and zinc will let the lemon juice act as an electrolyte and set off an electrochemical reaction that can power small objects like a clock. But if one lemon can do that, then how much power can 1,000 lemons provide? Former NASA engineer Mark Rober recently explored that question when he was tasked to find a way to power Volkswagen's I.D. R, a fully-electric racing car. While making the attempt, Rober and his collaborators created the world's largest lemon battery.

Via Laughing Squid, Rober partnered with electrical engineer and fellow YouTube host William Osman, as they assembled the record-breaking lemon battery. And while the battery was an impressive creation, its output was less so. Even the combined power of 1,000 lemons could only offer a minuscule charge for the race car. Basically, there's no way that this particular battery could ever meet that challenge.

For the remainder of the video, Rober and Osman sought alternative solutions while still attempting to utilize the 1,000 lemons they acquired. Their next idea was to literally make lemonade and give it to a group of kids, who would then provide power by constantly using a zip-line to build up a charge. That turned out to be a more successful gamble. Instead of powering the car for just a few feet, the assembled charge would have taken it across two soccer fields. Ultimately, Rober chose to go for a solar panel solution, and he was able to fully charge the car's battery that way.

What do you think about the 1,000 lemon battery? And who's thirsty for some lemonade? Let us know in the comment section below!

Image: Mark Rober

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