British researchers recently showed that an algae-based energy collector, which harnesses sunlight, can power a small computer completely autonomously for several months.
With the number of electronic devices constantly growing, it is necessary to find innovative ways to operate them. Algae are capable of producing hydrogen, forming the basis of biofuels, purifying waste water, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and generating electricity through photosynthesis, which is a promising option, and on this last point the teamCambridge University concentrated.
Like natural solar cells, these microorganisms convert sunlight into chemical energy, and water and carbon dioxide into organic molecules. Such a process produces electrons that can be collected and used to power electronic devices.
Their new device appears to be no bigger than an AA battery, and it contains a small container of water and blue-green algae ( cyanobacteria from a kind of synchronous). Electrons are collected by an aluminum electrode and sent to power a ARM Cortex-M0 +which is a low-power microprocessor commonly used in connected devices.
Researchers placed it in an environment home “in circumstances” semi outdoor (near the window), where it was able to produce the electricity needed to run the microprocessor reliably and sustainably. Although the article it displays, it was recently published in the review Energy and Environmental SciencesFocusing on its first six months of operation, the team says such a device could run for an entire year.
A more sustainable and environmentally friendly source of energy
” We have been impressed with the system’s reliability and consistency over a long period of time. ‘ asserts Dr. Paul Bombelli, lead author of the study. ” We thought it would stop after a few weeks, but it kept working. »
The team says the device was able to continue to generate electricity in the dark, suggesting that the blue-green algae may be storing some of the food and consume it later.
This type of collector/generator is manufactured from inexpensive and common components, it has much longer life than conventional lithium batteries, this type of collector/generator will be a more environmentally friendly power source. According to the study authors, they can effectively power small electronic devices, especially in remote areas.
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