A solution to all those leftover Brussels sprouts on Christmas Day has been found by a UK creative consultancy company, who have created a sprout battery which generates enough electricity to light up an entire Christmas tree.
Harnessing the power of 1000 sprouts each containing a copper and zinc electrode, the sprouts were modified to encourage a chemical reaction which produces enough power to light 100 high-efficiency LED light bulbs on an 8 foot Christmas tree.
The project was originally conceived by the Big Bang science fair in order to demonstrate to children the potential of the small green vegetables, after it was discovered in a survey of 1000 children that 68% hated having the seasonal veg served up to them with their Christmas dinner.
The experiment was headed by Sean Miles, a workshop manager who was assisted by a group of Year 7 pupils from a local London school to create the battery, which can be currently viewed on London’s Southbank. Explaining how it works, Miles states that by placing a copper and zinc electrode within each sprout, this allows for a chemical reaction to take place and where the reaction creates enough energy using the sprout’s natural electrolytes to convert into a current. Generating 62 volts of electricity in the process, the electricity is stored in a capacitor which powers the lights, with the sprouts possessing enough electrolytes to do so for around a week.
In terms of their electrical capacity Brussels sprouts are actually the least efficient vegetable to use, something Miles attributes to making the experiment even more amazing as a feat of science. In order increase the amount of time the tree may be lit up, scientific research conducted in the past has proven that using acidic fruits such as lemons and limes is best as they are much better conductors through containing more electrolytes. Rather than powering an electronic generator however, it’s probably more likely that this year fruits are more likely to be used to make gingerbread and Christmas cake.
What has also helped the experiment become a success is the choice of LED lightbulbs instead of conventional bulbs used for lighting the tree. This is because LED lights require less electricity to light them, utilising the energy generated from the sprouts and using it more efficiently than traditional incandescent bulbs. LEDS also emit very little heat, as opposed to incandescent bulbs which would release 90% of the energy created by the sprouts as heat rather than light, decreasing the likelihood that the stunt would work with the traditional bulbs.
Whilst this usage is a lot better than currying them, Waitrose are trying this year to encourage kids to actually eat them, introducing a new variety of “kid-friendly” Brussels sprouts which are milder, sweeter and have a less bitter taste. If all else fails regarding a culinary transformation of the vegetable however, you can be sure to transform your home into a grotto fit for Santa himself by purchasing some LED Christmas lights, which not only are available in a variety of colours to illuminate your living room but can also help you save money on your electricity bills this winter.