Free Energy Blog:2015:11:24

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Free Energy Blog posts from Tuesday, November 24, 2015


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'Free Energy Blog:2015:11:24'

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Here's a cool story from MIT Technology Review (November 23, 2015). I wonder what the price point and maintenance feasibility are for this. Just because something works doesn't mean it's going to be practical.

“Plant Lamps” Turn Dirt and Vegetation into a Power Source


: Researchers in Peru have a new way to capture electricity from plants and bacteria to help rainforest communities.

: Researchers at the Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC) have developed a technique for capturing the electricity emitted from plants. Actually, to be fair, it’s Geobacter— a genus of bacteria that live in the soil — that do the grunt work. Robby Berman at Slate explains the process:

:: “[N]utrients in plants encounter microorganisms called ‘geobacters’ in the dirt, and that process releases electrons that electrodes in the dirt can capture. A grid of these electrodes can transfer the electrons into a standard battery.”

: UTEC has partnered with global ad agency FCB to produce 10 prototypes and distribute them to houses in the rainforest village of Nuevo Saposoa. Each contains an electrode grid buried in dirt, in which a single plant grows. The grid connects to a battery, which powers a large LED lamp attached to an adjustable arm on the outside of the box. The UTEC video below shows the boxes in action (including a money shot of a lamp being triumphantly turned on):


: (YouTube October 30, 2015)

: For Nuevo Saposoa and other underserved communities, this is more than just a crackerjack bit of biological engineering. Electricity, and lighting in particular, are a very real need. Berman writes:

:: “In the rainforest villages of Nuevo Saposoa and Pucallpa in Perù, there’s an existing electrical grid, but since a flood last March damaged its cables, it hasn’t been working. Forty-two percent of the communities in the rainforest don’t have even that much. Sundown means lights out, a real problem for families with small children—and for students who need to study—unless they resort to unhealthy and dangerous kerosene lamps.”

: [...] If the “plant lamps” (that’s UTEC’s name, not mine) are successful, their appeal isn’t going to be limited to rainforest communities. Who wouldn’t want a houseplant that cut back on their electric bill? Add a bit of green to your bank account and your bedroom.

: It’s worth noting that UTEC’s researchers are hardly the first to make use of Geobacter — they’re some of biotech’s most talented microbes. In 2009 Time named the “electric microbe” one of its 50 best inventions of the year. Recent research confirms they’re electrically conductive to boot, which means in theory they can act like nanowires for transmitting electricity. In addition to power generation, Geobacter have also garnered attention for their ability to metabolize pollution like radioactive material.

: As elegant as the plant lamps are, it’s easy to imagine even bigger and better applications. What sort of power could an entire garden generate? Is there a way to combine pollution-tolerant plants with the electric grid and bacteria — might a grove of trees help reduce soil pollution and provide power? [...]


-- SilverThunder 17:22, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

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