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World's First 'Brussels Sprout Battery' Lighting Up UK Christmas Tree

Image credit: The Big Bang UK

Notoriously hated by children, Brussels sprouts will be doing something a little more exciting this year than lining the edges of plates on Christmas day.

A team of scientists and engineers from The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair has created the world’s first battery made entirely of Brussels sprouts, which is being used to light an 8-foot Christmas tree.

Five power cells hold 200 Brussels sprouts each, amounting to 1,000 of the unloved green vegetable in total. The battery will generate 63 volts, which puts it in the same (low) voltage category as a telephone, making it safe to touch. Meanwhile, a chemical reaction between copper and zinc electrodes within the Brussels sprouts will power the LEDs on the tree.

The “Sprout Battery” was unveiled last week on the Southbank, London, with the help of Year 7 pupils from City of London Academy, Islington, who were on hand to switch on the Christmas tree lights.

Paul Jackson, the CEO of EngineeringUK, which runs The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair, said: “We want young people to think about STEM subjects in an interesting way and are always looking for different ways to do that. It being the festive time of year — and kids’ dislike of sprouts being well documented — using them to create a battery seemed like a unique way to achieve that aim.

“Every year thousands of pupils and teachers attend the Fair, which exists to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. We want to extend the buzz of the Fair further and wider, so that even those who can’t attend are encouraged to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.”

A recent survey of 1,000 children by OnePoll found that 68 percent "hated" Brussels sprouts and 67 percent wished that the UK tradition of eating them at Christmas could be stopped. Not wanting to eliminate the traditional vegetable all together, The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair has used science and engineering to give sprout-haters an alternative way to enjoy brussel sprouts at Christmas.

The power is stored in a capacitor and released through 100 high-efficiency LEDs. The Big Bang scientists are able to monitor the voltage on a separate display, which shows how much energy is being produced by the sprouts.

The Big Bang Fair takes place at The NEC in Birmingham, on March 13-16, 2014.

This post first appeared on the 2degrees blog on November 26, 2013.

Victoria is content editor at 2degrees, where she is responsible for delivering content, specifically in the areas of customer and employee engagement, social value and water management. Her role is to keep up with the latest sustainability issues that businesses and organisations face,… [Read more about Victoria Knowles]

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