Researchers converted charged electrons into electricity to power gadgets.
Moss FM is a clear demonstration of how living organisms can be used as biological solar panels. Though it’s hard to believe that plants can supply electricity for practical uses in technology, this abstract idea actually grounds itself on the occurrences of photosynthesis.
This plant-powered radio was built by Swiss designer Fabienne Felder in collaboration with Cambridge University scientists Dr. Paolo Bombelli and Ross Dennis.
The system’s Photo Microbial Fuel Cell is connected to an anode that collects generated electrons by photosynthesis and a cathode where the electrons are finally consumed. There is an external circuit that links the ten pots of moss together.
The moss grows on top of a composite of water-retaining materials, conductive materials, and biological matter.
Other plants could have been chosen for the project, but the team ultimately decided on moss because this particular genus of bryophytes “operate as potentially better photo-active components in Photo-MFCs due to particularities in their photosynthetic process.”
With the current model capable of handling only 0.1% of the plant’s energy, there is still considerable room for improvement, and researchers are expecting that figure to increase in time.
Moss FM is the first time Photo-MFCS have been used to power devices requiring more electricity than an LCD screen, but even though this technology is still in its infancy, the team hopes to see a commercially viable version in five to ten years.
For more information about the project, you can visit the Moss Power Tumblr page.