A Dutch company, Plant-e, presents a new sustainable energy resource: Electricity from LIVING plants!
The whole idea of this technology comes from Dr.Ir.Bert Hamelers. In 2008 the proof-of-principle was published and in 2012 a consortium was created and it result became spin-off company, plant-e.
How come? Well, Plants that do photosynthesis produce organic matters, such as C6H12O6. Some of it would be used by the plant itself, but the rest would transported to soil through the plant roots. In the soil, micro-organism use this matter and create water and CO2. Water has two steps to be created. That’s where plant-e part comes. By creating a membrane in soil they separate an anode and a cathode which in put in the soil. At the anode part water creation happens and in process electron and proton are created as waste. Electrons flow through the anode, and enter the power harvester such as a lamp via a wire. Then the second part of the water creation process starts; in the cathode part the protons meet O2 from air and create water.
The whole approach is similar to apple batteries or potatoes used in high schools to create electricity, but for creating a sustainable energy source the plant should not be poisoned. Therefore, they use intercom Electrodes and self-repairing plants and bacteria. So all that this system needs is CO2, water and light, so it can generate electricity day and night, 4season.
In normal urban environments, such as cities, system can be used on the roofs as green roofs. The first green electricity roof on the world is Netherland Institute of ecology. The system is modular and at the current time 15 Square meters of it is enough for charging a cellphone. An interesting fact is that the green roof system combines electricity production with advantages of a green roof, such as water storage, capturing CO2, purifying the air and insulating surfaces.
The company goal is to provide the system worldwide to entire humanity, a noble goal in my opinion. After introducing it in urban environments, they’ll go for the existing rice fields and then every wetland which is qualified for growing plants, even in environments which water is polluted!
About 1.4 billion people worldwide don’t have access to electricity, and that means no light, no internet and even no phone. But their world is going to change now if Plant-e becomes a reality.
Our current civilization is in an energy crisis; our old energy systems covered Mother Earth too much waste. Many of Our energy resources will be perished in the next few decades. But since we are humans, we will always find a way. Plant-e might just be one of it!
by Shahin Shirvani