Video: Solar power from energy-harvesting trees

February 16, 2015 by Olli Ernvall, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

Scientists at VTT have developed a prototype of a tree that harvests solar energy from its surroundings - whether indoors or outdoors - stores it and turns it into electricity to power small devices such as mobile phones, humidifiers, thermometers and LED light bulbs. The technology can also be used to harvest kinetic energy from the environment.

The "leaves" of the tree are flexible, patterned solar panels made using a technique developed by VTT on a printing process. The leaves form an electronic system complete with wiring that conduct energy into a converter that feeds electricity to devices such as mobile phones or sensors analysing the environment.

The tree trunk is made with 3D technology by exploiting wood-based biomaterials VTT has developed.

VTT's technologies create endless opportunities for applications involving different kinds of electronics regarding lighting and energy harvesting, for example.

The more there are in a tree, the more energy it can harvest.

Explore further: Decorative and flexible solar panels become part of interior design and the appearance of objects

Related Stories

Mimicking photosynthesis with man-made leaves

November 25, 2014

Scientists have long been trying to emulate the way in which plants harvest energy from the sun through photosynthesis. Plants are able to absorb photons from even weak sunlight using light antennae made from chlorophyll ...

A tree may have the answers to renewable energy

July 23, 2014

Through an energy conversion process that mimics that of a tree, a University of Wisconsin-Madison materials scientist is making strides in renewable energy technologies for producing hydrogen.

Recommended for you

HSBC, ING banks announce blockchain first

May 14, 2018

Banking giants HSBC and ING on Monday said they had carried out a landmark blockchain transaction aimed at speeding up payment processes and making them more secure.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Feb 17, 2015
cool but we need some actual figures for efficiency.....
Also if they make the leaves somehow transparent can it be that each leaf takes exactly how much it can convert while letting the extra photons pass and fuel inferior leafs (vertical alignment) ?
not rated yet Feb 18, 2015
based on their latest press release it's max 1% on the active area!

Just in case you are interested in organic solar cells ready to buy you can check out (they can be customized as well)

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.