Posts tagged ‘algae’

January 3, 2013

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.

 

October 1, 2012

Algae and Energy

Algae have been seen as a promising new source of energy, especially for biofuels. There are several companies who have various solutions on how to utilise algae to drive our engines. 

In general, algae species can be grown in either closed or open ponds, and are used for creating various types of biofuels, including biodiesel, ethanol or even jet fuel. Generally oils are extracted from the algae using various chemical and mechanical methods and later transformed into biofuels. This process also offers another benefit to the environment as algae use carbon-dioxide for photosynthesis and growth, thus can reduce CO2-levels in the atmosphere.

One of the companies in this field, Sapphire Energy has just announced the first phase of a giant algae farm, where the full output shall reach a hundred barrels of algae biofuel a day by 2014.

Another major player in this area is Solazyme, which uses biotechnology solutions to work with algae. The company works with large corporations, such as Chevron, and also delivered about 80,000 litres of algae-based diesel and jet fuel to the US Navy in the year 2010.

There are also various other applications for algae. A pilot project was recently started in Paris where algae are grown on the top and side of buildings. Here the algae clean waste water from the flats, during this process they use carbon-dioxide from the surrounding air and also produce heat while growing, which can be used in the heating system.

Algae thus seem to be a good ‘source’ for energy in the future, either in vehicles or in more innovative ways – for instance at urban heating.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

Image: Wikipedia 

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