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Published on November 24th, 2008 | by Andrew Williams


Music Fan Charges iPod With an Onion

November 24th, 2008 by  


Music fan Owen Louis was so concerned about the amount of energy used up by his iPod, that he figured out a way of charging it up … with nothing more than an onion.

Louis, 21, from Portsmouth in the UK, makes two holes in an onion, before soaking it in an everyday energy drink and connecting it to his MP3 via a standard USB cable. Incredibly, the technique (video) enables him to charge his iPod for a full hour. According to Louis, “A friend showed me the experiment as a laugh but I thought it was the greatest thing I have ever seen, and do it religiously every day.”

Speaking about the technique, Phil Stubbles, a physics lecturer from Hampshire said that almost all vegetables could power iPods because they contain ions which react with energy drinks to create a charge. “The only problem is you have no control over how long it may work for … and it can be smelly,” he added.

Author’s Note – Since it first hit the newswires, this story has been causing something of a stir in the blogosphere.  First came itwire, claiming that the story is a hoax. Then, a number of other blogs, including macworlduk, shiny shiny and digitalspy ran with the story claiming it was true (or at least open to debate). However, according to the Guardian (25 November), it appears that the basic science behind the idea is correct, but that this particular technique is a hoax. The article quotes Jon Edwards of the UK Royal Society of Chemistry (no less), who says “The science behind the idea isn’t bad – you can generate an electric current from vegetables – but the video is a hoax.”  He explains that it can’t work because you need two electrodes to provide a reaction and a reason for an electric current to flow.

Out of interest, do any readers have any more technical information on this? Or perhaps you’ve tried the experiment yourself? If so, feel free to get involved and make a comment.

Image Credit – Darwin Bell via flickr.com on a Creative Commons license 
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About the Author

is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in sustainability and green issues. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.

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