Soil and Plants Could Be the Answer to a New Greener Energy Source


The ecosystem decider 

Solar, the wind, and wave power are all very good sources of green energy. But now, scientists have just tapped into another possible source of energy. It’s one that may have been overlooked previously, but soil and plants could be the answer to a greener environment (excuse the pun). One company, Arkyne Technologies, has developed an innovative product called Bioo Lite and it’s a 25cm tall pot that uses plants to charge your phone (or other devices).

Dr. Marjolein Helder is heavily involved in the implementation of these DIY gardens, and she believes there is a huge potential to generate clean energy from plants and is an avenue we have been missing out on. Being CEO of Plant-e, her and her team launched Starry Sky two years ago, which is an energy project that powers Wi-Fi hotspots, cell phone chargers, and more than 300 LED streetlights.

The Bioo Lite is capable of charging mobile phones up to 3 times a day by using a USB charging port connected to the plant’s soil base.
The Bioo Lite is capable of charging mobile phones up to 3 times a day by using a USB charging port connected to the plant’s soil base.
Only needing sunlight, water and CO2 to work, PMFC technology appeals with its ability to generate electricity cleanly.
Only needing sunlight, water and CO2 to work, PMFC technology appeals with its ability to generate electricity cleanly.
Plant Microbial Fuel Cell technology involves the use of inert electrodes that form an electrical circuit and act as a battery once connected.
Plant Microbial Fuel Cell technology involves the use of inert electrodes that form an electrical circuit and act as a battery once connected.

So, what is it that is making Plant-e and Bioo Lite successful in acting as a charging device? It’s something called Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell (PMFC). This is what extracts the electricity that’s produced during photosynthesis from the living organism. This type of technology is very eco-friendly as requires only sunlight, water, and CO2 to work effectively and plans are already underway to be used to supply energy to buildings and houses. Places that have been targeted as being the most useful include rice fields, deltas, and salt marshes due to their waterlogged roots. Studies suggest that if all wetlands across the globe were used the energy that could potentially be harnessed could cover more than 60% of the whole world’s energy consumption.

Another fantastic feature about the PMFC technology is that it can run continually for hours on end. From Plant-e’s research, statistics suggest that with a surface area of just 50 square meters a ‘green roof’ could provide around a third of the electricity needed for the average household. On the larger end of the scale, one hectare of plants would be enough to power 28 homes for a whole year. And, this figure will only get better, too. As technology advances, so will the efficiency of the system.

Projections released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance suggest that by 2040 as much as 60% of the world’s installed capacity could be from that of zero-energy emission projects. And, with the help of PMFC and Plant-e, places that are abundant with wetlands but scare in electricity, could soon benefit no end.

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