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Caleb Charland, a Portland, Maine-based experimenter-photographer, mixes sciences with art in his series of photographs where he uses fruits or vegetables to power electricity.

Caleb wired together 300 apples on the tree to power a lamp. He put a zinc-coated galvanized nail into each apple and a bare copper wire into the other end to create a current through the electrolytes (charged particles) in the fruit. Electrons flowed from the zinc electrode (where the zinc reacts with the acid in the apple) through the light and into the copper electrode, which transferred electrons back into the fruit. Every ten apples provided about 5 volts, powering an LED for several hours. (1)

“I began installing the work at 9 in the morning. I had no frame of reference for how long the process would actually take. I didn’t want to start too early fearing I would get done too soon and potentially wear out the “batteries” before I could start my photographic exposure, thus wasting a lot of time and fruit. I worked all day and took no break, I was still wiring the orchard after sunset. I finished install at 8 pm then began my 4 hour exposure on photographic film. The final image was created using a large format camera that uses color film measuring 4×5 inches.” (1)
Here is some of his work demonstrating objects serving as sources of electricity:

Lamp powered by 300 live apples, 2012

Vinegar Battery, 2011

Fruit Battery Still Life (Citrus), 2012

Coin Battery, 2010


Here is the video of Making of Apple Trees and LEDs showing how this was done:

One thought on “How many citrus fruits does it take to turn on a lamp?

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