Scientists At IIT Have Invented This New Technique to Produce Electricity From Onion


It seems very curious to talk regarding the consistency between onion and electricity. Yes it is! And it will be very interesting to now about the story behind it.

The scientists at IIT Kharagpur, have invented a innovative technique of producing electricity by implementing a distinctive technique.

Here’s all you need to know regarding this typical invention of our scientists.

What Our Scientists Have Invented?


The scientist and professor at IIT Kharagpur, Mr. Bhanu Bhusan along with his team has developed a technique of generating electricity by using waste onion skins. These scientists used wasted onion skins to make a device that can generate ‘Green Electricity’ from body movements that may power Pacemakers, Smart pills and Wearable Electronics.

According to the researchers, this device is non-toxic, biodegradable and biocompatible that takes advantage of the suitable piezoelectric properties of the onion skin.

  • Bio compatible-

                           The capability of coexistence with living tissues or organism without causing any harm.

  • Smart Pill-

                     It is an ingestible capsule that measures pressure, pH & temperature as it travels through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to assess GI mobility.

  • Pacemaker-

                     A pacemaker is a small electric device, fitted in the chest or abdomen, to treat some abnormal heart rhythms that can cause your heart either beat too slowly or miss beats.


About the Device:

As it has been described above how this device could be used-


  • This device could be used in various ways like biomedical applications such as pacemaker powered by heartbeats or edible devices that can track health from inside the body.

It is being estimated by the researchers that device could be manufactured easily at a cost of very less than a rupee with the help of existing technologies.

  • If we talk about the manufacturing process of this device, an onion skin has been coated with a thin layer of gold and added copper wires with silver paste by the researchers. After that it was capsulated in polymers.
  • The nanogenerator works on harvesting several types of mechanical energies, including body movements, wind flow and even machine vibrations.
  • According to the study published in the journal NanoEnergy, this device has an output of 18 volts and can turn 30 green LEDs under repeated human fingers touch response.
  • Researchers said, this device could withstand repeated cycles of pressing and releasing for up to five months. The voltage generated remained almost unchanged even after ling cycles, indicating good mechanical stability of bio-medical applications.
  • It has been founded by the research that only half-an-inch of an onion peels is enough to generate 20 volts. The scientists said that if you gather the peels of six onions and place then in a series, they can light-up 80 LEDs or charge a laptop or mobile phone.

The user needs to encapsulate the onion skin and fabricate the device-the size of an adhesive plaster to make this system work.

  • Nanogenerators are enough skilled to convert kinetic energy created from vibrational and mechanical sources into electric power, doing away with the need for external circuits or batteries. This device is called Bio-Piezoelectric Nanogenerators (BPNG), in scientific jargon.

What Encouraged Researchers?

There are several issues which prompted researchers at IIT Kharagpur & Pohang University of Science and Technology on South Korea to develop Non-toxic, Biodegradable and Biocompatible Piezoelectric Generator (BPNG).

  • As we see the environment completely surrounded by a large number of populations, day by day increasing industrialization and ubiquitous use of electronics & vehicles as well.

Undoubtedly, these are necessary elements of current era, but on the other, hand these all are playing a huge role in destroying the environment day by day.

  • Researchers said that raising burden on fossil fuels and exhaustion of natural resources has made the development of sustainable and alternative green energy technologies a pressing requirement in current energy deficiency world.
  • Piezoelectric nanogenerators are difficult to synthesis and very expensive to use. They are also highly toxic or can say that they are supposed to be used in real life application remains limited.

What Prof. Khatua said about this invention?

Here are some statements given by Mr. Khatua regarding this invention:

  • “Among various cellulose containing bio-materials, onion skin is the most abundant bio-waste.”
  • “This motivated us to study the piezoelectric co-efficient of the onion skin and its suitability as a bio-piezoelectric material.”
  • “The uniqueness of our work lies in the novelty of utilizing naturally abundant biocompatibility and biodegradable onion skin directly as efficient piezoelectric material, which is thrown as tonne-scale garbage in every day worldwide.”
  • “This is the first time that a nanogenerator has been designed using onion peel as the medium for generating electricity. Onion peels are bio-degradable and bio-waste material. Unlike other piezoelectric materials, they don’t require pre-treatment or electrical polling. We just have to place the onion peel based nanogenerator, linked with the smart electric devices, under the mechanical energy sources.”

Meet With the Team-

Professor Bhanu Bhusan Khatua, his PhD scholar Sumanta Kuman Karan and their team at the Material Science Centre (NSC) have developed the green technology after a year-long research.

Professor Bhanu Bhusan-

The outcome has been experienced and improved by scientists, led by Jin Kon Kim, at Pohang University of Science and Technology (Postech), South Korea. The paper was published in the Nano Energy Journal in October.


 We can say that it is a rising development for smart applications to produce energy during human body movements. It is one of the great efforts of IIT-Kharagpur to commercialize electricity generated from onion peel may go along way in providing free power in rural India which is crucial issue in our country.

This invention is like a pathway to get to the bottom of the trouble of electricity in our country and across the world as well.

Thank You. 


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