The University of Cambridge has announced that it has been using cyanobacteria for a year in an experiment. The cyanobacterial energy cell has been driving the computer for more than half a year without a break. According to its authors, the device has excellent potential in the future and fits easily into a standard household.
Renewable Power Supply Based on Photosynthesis
The researchers used Synechocystis cyanobacteria which can naturally obtain energy from the Sun. It works with the help of photosynthesis. Although scientists made the system of completely common, cheap, and largely recyclable materials, the cyanobacteria are non-toxic. The authors stated that the device “has the potential as a reliable and renewable way to small power devices.”
So far, this system is only small, it has the dimensions of one pencil battery, but scientists have designed it to be scalable so that it can be used on a much larger scale. According to them, it would be ideal for powering a lot of objects that are and will be even more part of the so-called Internet of Things. This means an extensive and ever-expanding network of electronic devices, each of which consumes a small amount of energy and collects and shares data in real time via the Internet, such as smartwatches.
How Does Cyanobacterial Cell work?
The “cyanobacterial power plant” principle is simple – the device converts the energy obtained by photosynthesis into electricity. The current then interacts with the aluminum electrode and powers the computer’s processor. This energy is enough to power the ARM Cortex-M0 + microchip, which is one of the least energy-intensive devices of this type.
Professor Christopher Howe of Cambridge University’s Department of Biochemistry said, “This photosynthetic device doesn’t discharge like a battery because it constantly uses light as its energy source.”
And although photosynthesis requires light, the device can produce energy even in dark times. Scientists believe that this is because cyanobacteria process part of their food when there is no light, which continues to produce electricity.
Source and credit: https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2022/EE/D2EE00233G, Gambridge University