Viral videos that have gone viral on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok purport to demonstrate a new mineral that holds a charge, with users proving by rubbing them together and causing sparks, as well as connecting them with wires that appear to power an LED. The rocks were allegedly discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and have sparked much curiosity due to the fact that such rock will likely transform batteries and power storage forever.
However, as is often the case, not everything is as it appears, and scientists have since said that, to the best of our knowledge, such mineral-producing energy is impossible. Minerals within rocks lack the molecular makeup required to retain or release charge; the best they can do is transfer it.
That is most likely what is happening here: the frame is clipped so that the border of the rock is not visible in the sparking video, hinting that wires are connected to the mineral (pyrite, according to experts) and the rocks are conducting the current between them.
When the LED is not connected to the rock, there are times when the light remains lit, indicating that there is some type of current coming from somewhere other than the rock. Alternatively, there may be a capacitor somewhere that stores a little quantity of charge that powers the battery when the connecting wires complete the circuit. The same thing can be seen in the second video showing that the rock does present some kind of voltage.
Yaoguo Li, a professor of geophysics at the Colorado School of Mines gave quite an interesting explanation, although it does not completely define this phenomenon.
Minerals lack the chemistry needed to retain charge in the same manner as batteries do. Batteries do not store electrical energy, but rather an energy in another form (typically chemical), which is later converted to electrical energy via chemical interactions between the anode, cathode, and electrolyte. Minerals, on the other hand, will not release the electrons essential for charge storage and generation.
“We don’t know of any mechanism, thus far, that actually supports that kind of phenomenon,” (Quote by Yaoguo Li)
The mineral must have an anode and a cathode that may interact in order to constitute a "natural battery," as the videos propose.