Imagine you are spending a nice sunny day at the park. Like all good Society of Simulations inhabitants, you want to take a picture of your friends and the amazing picnic you are having, to post it on your social networks. Bummer! The battery of your mobile phone is dead. And of course, there isn’t any electric socket anywhere near. This difficulty soon might be a problem of the past. Dutch technostarter Plant-e designs and develops products that use living plants to generate electricity.
The company was founded in 2009, as a spin-off from Wageningen University, by Marjolein Helder and David Strik. The technology enables the user to produce electricity from living plants at practically every site where plants can grow. It is based on natural processes and it is safe for both the plant, and the environment.
The website of Plant-e gives a short explanation about how this process works : "Via photosynthesis a plant produces organic matter. Part of this organic matter is used for plant-growth, but a large part can’t be used by the plant and is excreted into the soil via the roots. Around the roots naturally occurring micro-organisms break down the organic compounds to gain energy from. In this process, electrons are released as a waste product. By providing an electrode for the micro-organisms to donate their electrons to, the electrons can be harvested as electricity. Research has shown that plant-growth isn’t compromised by harvesting electricity, so plants keep on growing while electricity is concurrently produced."
Let's hope this technology will soon become a common way to generate electricity. And it might also be a incentive motivation to plant more trees and greenery, so we could, not only provide ourselves with more electricity, but also create more oxygen and animal habitat.