Micro photosynthetic power cells may be the green energy source for the next generation

October 2, 2015
Micro photosynthetic power cells may be the green energy source for the next generation
Anatomy of micro photosynthetic cell. (a) Main components of micro PSC; (b) unassembled micro PSC model; (c) assembled proposed micro PSC model; (d) schematic of micro PSC tested; (e) schematic of experimental set up; and (f) experimental measurement set up. Credit: TECHNOLOGY

A team of researchers from the Optical Bio Microsystem lab at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, have invented and developed micro-photosynthetic cell technology that can harness electrical power from the photosynthesis and respiration of blue-green algae. This novel, scalable technology enables economical ways of generating clean energy, and may be the superlative, carbon-free power source for the future of mankind. The team headed by Dr. Muthukumaran Packirisamy, research Chair of the Optical Bio Microsystem lab at Concordia, has conceived and developed such a contraption. The report is featured in the September 2015 issue of the journal TECHNOLOGY.

Clean and green carbon-free energy is globally anticipated as the potential soltution for the mitigation and eventual erasure of global warming. The main source of clean energy comes from the sun, which emits more energy to the earth every hour than mankind depletes in one year. Hence, technologies that derive energy from the sun are instrumental to the worldwide conversion of sources to eco-friendly auxiliaries. This constitutes a large part of the incentive for the team of researchers at Concordia University, who have come up with an effective method for harnessing photosynthetic power from algae.

Both photosynthesis and respiration, which take place in plants cells, involve electron transfer chains. The main concept herein involves trapping these electrons that are released by blue-green algae. The electron transfer chains of photosynthesis and respiration are constructive in harnessing the electrical energy from blue-green algae. This photosynthetic power cell consists of an anode, cathode and proton exchange membrane. The anode chamber consists of cyanobacteria and it releases electrons to the electrode surface from a redox agent that is present at the cathode. An external load is connected to extract the electrons. The fabricated cell could produce an open circuit voltage of 993mV and a power density of 36.23 μW/cm2. The more detailed report is available in the journal TECHNOLOGY. The performance of the power cell can be increased by reducing the electrode spacing between the two electrodes of and efficient design of the cell.

These micro photosynthetic power cells may entail significant military and wireless applications. They can also be good power sources for Bio MEMS devices. However, challenges still exists for MEMS researchers to fabricate the small scale anode-cathode chambers that are suitable for generating the high current density and high power density from the cell. Of course, much work needs to be done in scaling the power cell and making this commercial. The team of researchers in Optical Bio Micro Systems is working to fabricate the high and high current density power cell in economical ways.

Explore further: Engineer pursues biological solar power

More information: TECHNOLOGY journal: www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S2339547815400099

Related Stories

Engineer pursues biological solar power

February 11, 2015

A Binghamton University engineering researcher designed a biological solar cell that's a million times more effective than current technology. Preliminary data on Seokheun "Sean" Choi's next advancement is a thousand times ...

Novel electrode boosts green hydrogen research

February 20, 2015

Scientists from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have developed a novel reference electrode, and are working with hydrogen energy system manufacturer ITM Power to aid the development of hydrogen production technologies ...

Recommended for you

Microsoft aims at Apple with high-end PCs, 3D software

October 26, 2016

Microsoft launched a new consumer offensive Wednesday, unveiling a high-end computer that challenges the Apple iMac along with an updated Windows operating system that showcases three-dimensional content and "mixed reality."

Making it easier to collaborate on code

October 26, 2016

Git is an open-source system with a polarizing reputation among programmers. It's a powerful tool to help developers track changes to code, but many view it as prohibitively difficult to use.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2015
Isn't anybody working on coal-powered phones?

It looks like alternative energy is taking over everywhere.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.