A while ago, there has been a big fuss, and you may have probably heard about the air pollution problem in China, and the fact that they’ve started to buy clean air in bags. But that’s not the subject of this article. What I want is to get your attention on other benefits the living plants have for us, besides the clean air.
There is a start-up in the Netherlands that came up with a great idea for generating clean energy continuously. They developed a way to use living plants to make that happen. How is that possible? All that is needed is a light source, carbon dioxide, water, and a field or patch of living plants. This is great news for people in isolated regions who don’t have access to electricity!
The company that thought of it is called Plant-e and made a real purpose in showing the people how easy it is to bring electricity even in the most isolated areas. The system they’ve invented works best in wetlands or watery fields like rice paddies and doesn’t matter if the water used is not good for drinking or even polluted. This is good news, because the fields that are not good for agriculture could be used as power sources.
You may ask how this works and how the electricity is produced. Well, it’s based on natural processes: while the electrons are harvested from the soil, the electricity is produced while the plants are growing. Of course you may think that this is too good to be true, but it is really not the case. The system used by Plant-e is pretty simple: during the photosynthesis, a large portion of the organic matter generated is actually excreted by the roots into the soil. That organic matter is then consumed by the microorganisms living in the soil, which release electrons as a byproduct of this consumption. From that, the next step is quite intuitive: when you place an electrode near the roots, it then becomes easy to harvest this waste energy and turn it into electricity.
Of course that this is not an intrusive process and the living plants are not affected during the process, in fact, they continue to grow normally, while providing a constant source of power day and night.
The only bad part about this is that it’s not done yet, it’s a process under development, but a prototype green roof utilizing this technology is already being developed and tested in the Netherlands.
The team at Plant-e is positive about this new idea and hopes to make that happen as soon as possible. Until now, the energy they had acquired was enough to power a cell phone, but the purpose is to make as much energy in order to sustain a regular house.