In view of global crises and environmental destruction, cheap and environmentally friendly, ideally even completely renewable energies are in demand like never before. A lot has happened recently in terms of solar energy, as shown by the example of an electric car that is to drive 15,000 kilometers around the Australian continent with the help of panels from a printer for wine bottle labels.
In a quite spectacular experiment, they managed to run a mini-PC with an ARM Cortex processor continuously for six months with electricity from algae.
Batteries could soon last many times longer
Electricity from algae: Little power, but persistent
The alga is the so-called green spanalga, also called blue-green alga. Specifically, this is a type of cyanobacteria that uses photosynthesis and a nutrient solution to generate energy. The most important thing is the supply of sunlight. The usable electrical energy is passed on to the mini-computer through two electrodes (anode and cathode).
Surprisingly, the power supply was not interrupted even in the darkwhich leads the researchers to believe that the algae store some of the food and process it even without sunlight – albeit at a lower intensity and probably not permanently.
The mini PC is an extremely economical ARM Cortex-M0+ processor, complete with circuit board and cloud interface. Because the system transmitted the measurement results independently based on the algae battery.
In addition, it also went through tests: It alternated between 45 minutes of calculations and 15 minutes of idle time. The power required for this is just a maximum of 0.3 microwatts. In order to simulate conditions that were as realistic as possible, the algae power plant, the size of an AA battery, stood on the window sill of one of the research members involved.
Because of the small amounts of energy, we don’t even have to think about operating a fully-fledged high-end computer with the help of these algae. But that’s not what the experiment is about.
Nuclear power plant is to cover the immense demand for electricity
What do the researchers expect from the algae battery?
According to the researchers, small devices such as smartwatches and temperature sensors could be powered by the algae batteries in the future and thus make a valuable contribution to the overall energy generation. They are particularly suitable for rural areas or remote locations for environmental sensors. It is also conceivable that at some point they can be used to charge smartphones.
The researchers even claim to have found other types of algae that are able to produce more electricity than the green spanalgae. They expect to be ready for series production in about five years. So we are curious to see whether the algae batteries will actually be used one day.
How do you like that? Real revolution or do you think that nothing will come of it anyway? Write it to us in the comments!