Aceh student develops technology to ‘harvest’ electricity from mombin trees

The Jakarta Post, page 4

While most teenagers typically turn to gadgets or video games for amusement, Naufal Raziq, 15, from Aceh is turning his penchant for science into a technology to generate electricity from kedondong (mombin) trees.

A third-year Islamic junior high school student, Naufal has supplied electricity to several houses in his hometown of Tampur Paloh in Aceh through mombin-fueled electricity generators. Mombin trees are found in abundance in the city.

The generators do not produce as much power as diesel generators but they do generate enough electricity to power two low voltage Halogen light bulbs for every household. Naufal got his idea of creating the technology off the ground after he received assistance from state-owned oil and gas company PT Pertamina, which helped him developed the generator from a simple form into an applicable technology.

Naufal got the idea of the technology from how a battery works. To get electricity, he inserted a piece of zinc and copper inside a mombin tree. The two metals, which function as electrodes in a battery, create a chemical reaction when they come into contact with an acid substance inside the tree.

Naufal said he got the idea of harvesting electricity from a tree after learning in a natural sciences class that potatoes contained acid that could produce electricity. Then he began to do research, which included trying several trees including mango, star fruit and tamarind trees. He spent three years exercising with these trees before deciding to use mombin trees.

The electric generator developed by Naufal seems to be ineffective in that it can only power low voltage bulbs. But there is a chance he can further develop the technology to power bigger appliances in the future.

The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has recognized Naufal’s creativity and innovation and has promised to provide funding for the young scientist to further develop the technology, said ministry spokesman Hadi M. Djurait. But, He did not specify the total amount of funding that would be provided.

Accompanied by his father Supriaman and teacher Jamaliah, Naufal flew to Jakarta on Friday at the invitation of Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan. They discussed Naufal’s ideas, which resulted in the ministry pledging support for the teen’s research development.

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