Biophotovoltaics

Have you ever thought about using photosynthesis to power your desktop lamp or your laptop? Biophotovoltaics researchers are just working on that now.

Scientists at the University of Cambridge  have created the so-called ‘Moss Table’, Moss Tablea table with an array of pots of moss, which can already generate enough electricity to power a digital clock. For the operation, the moss only needs access to light and water in order to perform photosynthesis, which can then lead to power generation. Although current power output is rather low, it has the potential to be much more significant in the future.

The operation is rather simple. The moss (or other plants, algae) photosynthesise, which allows some organic compounds to enter the soil. When these compounds are de-composed by the bacteria in the soil, by-products are created, including electrons. These are then collected by conductive fibres integrated into the table and then used for powering devices.

According to another biophotovoltaic research, photosynthetising cells can be isolated in grass cuttings or other plant material, and these cells could then be added to various surfaces to create solar cells. The efficiency of these at the moment is also rather low but the technology is being improved day by day.

Biophotovoltaics is another promising research area, which could allow solar energy to become a direct household energy resource for anyone.

 

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