Bacteria-powered solar panel

By : |April 13, 2016 0

Researchers at Binghamton University, US have created a bio-solar panel that can generate 5.59 microwatts of energy – a big step in the evolution of bacteria-powered energy to run small devices in remote areas where regular battery replacement is not possible.

“Once a functional bio-solar panel becomes available, it could become a permanent power source for supplying long-term power for small, wireless telemetry systems as well as wireless sensors used at remote sites where frequent battery replacement is impractical,” said study co-author Seokheun “Sean” Choi from Binghamton University.

CIOL Bacteria-Powered Solar Panel

The team took nine bio-solar cells and wired them together into a small panel. The cells were arranged in a 3×3 pattern and continuously generated electricity from the photosynthesis and respiratory activities of the bacteria in 12-hour day-night cycles over 60 hours.

Though the production of 5.59 microwatts of power is nothing in comparison to traditional solar photovoltaics, the researchers actually see this output as a success because the continual electricity generation means that with some improvements, bio-solar panels could be used in low-power applications very soon, like providing clean energy for wireless sensor devices placed in remote areas where frequent battery changes are difficult.

The research paper says, “This could result in barrier-transcending advancements in bio-solar cells that could facilitate higher power/voltage generation with self-sustainability, releasing bio-solar cell technology from its restriction to research settings, and translating it to practical applications in real-world.”

“This research could also enable crucial understanding of the photosynthetic extracellular electron transfer processes in a smaller group of microorganisms with excellent control over the micro-environment, thereby enabling a versatile platform for fundamental bio-solar cell studies,” Choi noted in a paper published in the journal, Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical.

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