At a very young age, I found my self fascinated by both science and nature. My love for both formed around the same time and by the time I was six I had developed an inventor’s mentality, the “what can I fix today” mindset. I wanted so badly to put an end to global warming, pollution, and anything harmful to the earth. I had plenty of great ideas, but no one listens to children. So, eventually I stopped talking about my ideas. I remember reading about the conversion of energy, which is a principle of physics. I wanted to understand it fully as an attempt to put an end to the energy crisis. One day, back in ‘09 when I was nine; I was leaning over my mother’s shoulder, while she read an article about a harmful dairy by-product, more specifically a by-product of greek yogurt called acid whey. Greek yogurt was a major fad back then, so it had created a ton of this whey and no one really knew what to do with it. I had an “whey” cool idea. Convert it into energy!
For a while, the idea was locked away in the back of mind. It wasn’t until I turned 16 that I thought of it again and as it turned out acid whey was still a problem. That’s when I got a bright idea- to make acid whey myself and see what I could come up with. I had remembered from my first grade science textbook how a battery worked. With that I only had ten dollars so I did some thinking before going to Home Depot, I bought zinc and copper. Then I went to the grocery store I brought milk, live curds and candy.
After all that, I turned my kitchen into a science lab! You can imagine the mess and my mother’s feelings towards me. Hint: both weren’t good. It also wasn’t good that I “borrowed” her sponge and cut it up. Sadly I had to clean up my mess, before I did anything else; even save the future. I assembled my battery after letting my sponge bits soak in the whey. I got my digital multimeter and measured it to see if I had just changed the future. I did. I sat there staring at the battery emotionless, I didn’t think it would actually work. I imagined the future, and debated whether or not to tell my mother, because I had destroyed her sponge and kitchen. But, I did. I told my entire family and sadly no one really got it, they just asked if it was dangerous… I realized, maybe I was the only one who cared about acid whey. I mean, I emailed everyone I could think of, but no one responded. A few months passed and now I was in school.
Above pictures: (left) Sim testing how much energy a regular battery produces, (middle) Sim testing how much battery the acid battery produces and finds it create more than a regular battery! (right) Sim talking about her battery.
It wasn’t until the middle of the night, that I realized I could turn any non-sulfuric acid into energy. So I built it again, recorded everything, and I told my most awesome, sock-tastic math/science teacher Spencer, about my creation. He was excited too and he helped me out with my kickstarter page.
I learned a lot from trying to create something. You can’t do it on your own. It’s important to have people encourage and support you. I needed my mom’s kitchen and sponge…. But I also needed my teacher’s support and enthusiasm. Sometimes you just need to take a step back to look at everything, whether it’s a mess in the kitchen/lab or the applications of an invention.
With all that said I think this project could be the future. The possibilities are endless and the things that could be created from it astounded me. Jobs, gadgets, toys, the list goes on and on. I can’t help, but be a little afraid. One day we will have to break away from the overly aggressive fossil fuel industry. Why not today? Why shouldn’t we truly stand on our own two feet and take the steps towards the progressive future, we truly deserved? It’s been quite obvious that we cannot rely on those in power to protect us. As should we should create the power ourselves!
Written by: Sim Mateen