Algae could power our future batteries! This is at least the experiment carried out by researchers, and which has proven its effectiveness. But we are still very far from commercialization…
The process of photosynthesis, which allows organisms to synthesize organic matter using energy from the sun (among other sources) is at the heart of the biophotovoltaic process. This relatively recent technique is of great interest to scientists and industrialists, as it could be one of the methods of the future for producing energy.
The magic of photosynthesis
Researchers at Cambridge University in the UK have developed a kind of pile in which blue micro-algae have been enclosed. Exposed to the sun, these cyanobacteria were able to generate the equivalent of 0.3 microwatt/hour thanks to photosynthesis. It’s not much, but that energy was enough to power an Arm Cortex-M0+ chip for six months!
Another good surprise, the “stack” of algae generated a surplus of energy, thus making it possible to operate the chip at night. For use with internet of things (IoT) devices that require little power, cyanobacteria could represent an efficient and cost-effective alternative to traditional batteries or batteries.
Better still, using algae and photosynthesis to produce electricity is much less polluting than traditional sources of energy, but the comparison is also advantageous compared to solar panels or wind turbines. Biophotovoltaic therefore has a bright future ahead of it, but this technology is far from complete.
Indeed, the performance of algae is minimal, they transform into electricity only 0.25% of the solar energy captured. It would therefore take huge batteries to be able to power a traditional computer… or continue research to seriously improve the performance of this technology! A first step could however be taken fairly quickly for the IoT where the needs are less important.