The Little Algae That Could
Listen to Today's Edition
Green energy is about to become greener, according to Gizmodo.
Scientists recently found that a type of algae can power a computer microprocessor for more than six months using sunlight.
Cyanobacteria – better known as blue-green algae – produce energy from sunlight and transform it into food for themselves. For their study, researchers placed the algae into a plastic and metal enclosure roughly the size of an AA battery along with an aluminum anode.
The novel device was then placed on a windowsill and left to run for six months. During the experiment, the algae-computer system was programmed to conduct a series of calculations and check its own work.
The bio battery worked efficiently during this period and it still continues to generate electricity even after being disconnected.
“I cannot predict when it will stop,” said lead author Paolo Bombelli.
Bombelli and his team speculated how their system created current: They suggested that the cyanobacteria themselves could be generating electrons which transferred across bacterial membranes to the aluminum anode, thus creating electrical output.
The authors believe that such a battery could be used as an alternative energy supply, including powering small electronics without rare earth elements and lithium, which are in short supply.
Still, the algae’s generated energy is very minuscule at the moment and more research is needed to create cyanobacteria-based devices that can power phones – or houses.