Live plants could be used for bioelectricity production! A prototype microbial cell has just been made, fed with glucose from the photosynthesis of a plant. The marshes or the rice fields of the globe could in this way become power plants, as well as our roofs!
from the University of Wageningen (The Netherlands) and David Strik may have found an original source of energy. These researchers used by higher plants to feed . The project is certainly still experimental, but tests have proved conclusive. In a few years time, they estimate, houses could be fed by plants grown on the roofs!
Plants use theto produce from water, carbon (CO 2 ) and . However, 40 to 70% of these sugars are not used by these organisms. They are therefore rejected in the environment by the roots, to the delight of . These degrade these compounds to provide . It is on this stage that the researchers decided to act.
A microbial cell powered by plants
Plants were cultured in a medium containing. By degrading the (the sugars released), these bacteria produce CO 2, the (H + ) and recoverable by an positioned proximate the . The is itself fixed inside a second compartment separated from the first by a membrane permeable to protons. The potential difference between the two media generates an electric current. In the end, the protons arriving in the second compartment by will react with oxygen (O 2 ) and electrons from the cathode to form (H 2 O).
During testing, production reached 0.4per square meter (W / m²) than in growing plants, more than the current generated by various other exploiting the of . In the future, the system’s productivity could reach 3.2 W / m². A flat roof of 100 m² would then provide enough electricity for the year to power a home (an average of 2,500 kWh / year in France). Since 2009, the project has been developed by , a spin-off created by the two researchers.
No conflict for farmland exploitation
The microbial plant cell (or Plant-MFC Plant MicrobialCell ) could soon be installed on flat or in some developing countries. Indeed, the device can be buried in exploited by agriculture without hindering its use, for example in , or in swampy environment. Interestingly, the stack would work with a wide variety of plants. In the end, it is therefore non-polluting, discreet and durable.
However, some details still need to be improved before scaling up this process. Researchers complain in particular of the large amount of materials they still have to use to build the. Solutions would already be considered. In any case, this means of has enough to meet a certain success.