Could an Electric Eel Power Your Electric Vehicle?

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Image: Living Planet Aquarium

As a couple of holiday videos have proven recently, energy harnessed from electric eels is being used as an alternate source to power household accessories. This begs the question, “Could an electric eel be used to power an electric vehicle?”

An aquarium in Tokyo, and more recently one near Salt Lake City, have posted videos on YouTube showing the lights on holiday trees being powered by the energy they capture via electric probes placed in the water of a tank containing an electric eel.

The Living Planet Aquarium in Sandy, Utah is featuring the display as part of its Journey to South America gallery and utilizes the electricity from the eel to power a sequencer operating circuitry that flashes the lights fast or slow based on the level of voltage the eel puts out.

Image: Living Planet Aquarium

The eel, which lives in murky streams and ponds of the Amazon and Orinoco basins in South America, gets its name from the enormous electrical charge it generates to stun prey and discourage predators. The eel bodies contain electric organs with some 6,000 specialized cells called “electrocytes” that store power like tiny batteries and can discharge simultaneously emitting bursts of at least 600 volts at around 800 watts.

Image: Honda

Most EVs (electric vehicles) on the road today use battery packs that store somewhere around 280-400 volts DC so with a simple converter inline one could theoretically arrive home in one’s EV and plug into the “Eelectric” outlet and recharge without using anything from the grid.

Just gotta keep those eels fed.

More: Electric Eel powers Christmas Tree in Tokyo