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By Boe Smith on Feb 25, 2009 with 3 responses

Electric Eels Can Provide a Charge to the World’s Energy Problems


Harnessing the power of the electric eel, which can produce a charge of 600 volts, may be a good idea for an alternative and renewable energy.

The electric eel has the ability to produce a 600 volt charge. The results would have no bounds if we were to find a way to harness that power in an efficient manner.

What I am about to tell you, may leave you feeling eel.

I have been thinking about nature a lot lately, and how it may someday hold the key to solving our energy problems. There are so many strange, and misunderstood phenomenons in nature.

For instance; have you ever seen a barrel-eye fish (Macropinna microstoma)? That is one fine example of nature perplexing our imaginations.

The most fascinating thing I stumbled upon was the Electrophorus electricus,’ better known as the ‘Electric eel.’ The Electric eel is not an eel at all, it’s an electric fish. They’re members of the electric fish family, that include the knifefish, and the ghost fish. The eel’s 2nd closest relative is the catfish.

What blew me away was their ability to produce a 600 volt charge, incapacitating their prey in an instant. Aside from having an electric personality, they are almost completely blind. They find their way through the dusky waters by using less then 10-volts of low-level charge, guiding them much like radar to find their prey. They’re also air breathers, and must break the water’s surface often.

They may be able to stun, and knockout prey smaller then them, but the low amps that they produce, are pretty harmless to humans.

This really sparked my imagination. I began dreaming of a GM eel-powered car (how does the GM Eelantra sound?!), and many other electricity needs that can be taken care of by the energy contained within an eel.

The high-performance Tesla Roadster electric-powered vehicle is run on a 375 volt AC induction air-cooled electric motor.

Sounds really crazy doesn’t it?

The Tesla Roadster electric-powered vehicle is run on a 375 volt AC induction air-cooled electric motor.

What if I told you a small college that I wont drop the name of (Yale), is already researching this wild idea? Ok, they have no plans for my GM eel powered-car yet, but they are coming up with some pretty nifty stuff!

“The electric eel is very efficient at generating electricity,” said Jian Xu, a postdoctoral associate in Yale’s Department of Chemical Engineering. “It can generate more electricity than a lot of electrical devices.”

The researchers at Yale University, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are studying the cells of these unusual fish in an effort to create an artificial cell that replicate the electrical behavior of the electric eel cell.

They hope that by using modern science and engineering, to build upon an artificial eel cell strong enough to power medical implants.

I’m thinking that we should investigate methods of harnessing the power of the electric eel, and then breed them in a large-scale project as a method of creating alternative and renewable energy. If such an idea were to come to fruition, the results and usage would be practically endless.

I will admit, we are far from The GM Eelantra, but not far from designing the medical back-up battery of the future. Some people remain skeptical though, and believe that more research is needed before all this can become a reality. “Do we understand how a cell produces electricity well enough to design one—and to optimize that design?” says NIST engineer David LaVan.

I once laughed at all those goofy star trek gadgets, and now I’m talking of a similar futuristic concept.

Nature is powerful, and holds many secrets to things that have boggled us for a long time. I think that once we utilize more of Mother Nature’s power, we will not only solve power problems but do it in a much greener fashion.

Wouldn’t this sound great? Some guy pulls up to the filling station, and asks the attendant “how many eels to the mile?”

  1. By Jagt per Fernbedienung – Elektrisierende Neuigkeiten aus der Welt der Tiere | sciencehale on March 16, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    [...] Electric Eels Can Provide a Charge to the World’s Energy Problems. Online verfügbar unter…, zuletzt aktualisiert am 07.01.2015, zuletzt geprüft am [...]

  2. By Karthi Mariyappan on April 3, 2015 at 12:51 am

    If a car is charge by an electric fish???

  3. By The Scientific Thumb on April 21, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    [...] They use it as their defense against predators and as a way to communicate and hunt for prey. The states that the amount of charge that these powerful creatures produce is a good idea for an [...]

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