Research, Technology

The algae powered the computer with electricity for over 6 months. How is this possible?

Scientists are constantly on the lookoutalternative sources of electricity that do not harm the environment. Recently, engineers from the University of Cambridge in the UK put together a small design that can power small computers with the necessary amount of electricity that is generated by ... cyanobacteria. The device is similar to an AA battery and can keep an electronic device running for more than 6 months. This information is not taken from the air - a battery of bacteria really exists and has passed a test lasting six months. Yes, a gaming computer cannot be connected to such a power source (yet), but scientists have already found great use for it. We will talk about this now.

Battery of cyanobacteria

The main disadvantage of solar panels

Alternative energy sources that causeminimal harm to nature already exist. The most popular of these are solar panels, which turn light into electricity and store it in special batteries. But these designs are not perfect, and the main disadvantage is the batteries. Not only are they huge and require a lot of space, they also release harmful substances into the environment. Even one finger battery pollutes 20 square meters of land with heavy metals, what can we say about larger energy storage devices. In general, solar energy is good, but not without its drawbacks.

With all their advantages, solar panels have big disadvantages.


Cyanobacteria as an energy source

But what if you extract electrical energy fromliving organisms? Something like in The Matrix, where evil machines use human bodies as a source of energy, pre-loading a non-existent reality into their minds. Scientists have long known that cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, can generate electricity from the sun's sun - they are capable of photosynthesis. It seems to be the most suitable option for creating the system that was shown in The Matrix?

Cyanobacteria multiply on the surface of the water

To create a battery from microbes, Britishscientists used the cyanobacterium Synechocystis. The choice fell on them due to the fact that they are very common and the most well studied. The authors of the scientific work used aluminum wool as electrodes for energy transfer. The researchers chose this material because it is the least harmful to the environment. In addition, they were interested in how cyanobacteria would interact with it - what if they die out? It turned out that nothing bad happens in contact with aluminum.

Cyanobacterium synechocystis under the microscope

In the end, the scientists got the sourceenergy, similar to a finger battery. The cyanobacteria inside absorbed sunlight and were able to produce more than four microwatts of electricity per square centimeter. Even when it was dark, they broke down food supplies and produced electricity. It may seem like a tiny amount of energy. But this was enough to power a 32-bit processor with a reduced instruction set for more than 6 months. Moreover, he was processing a small amount of data with 15-minute breaks.

The created system was able to work for six months

Biochemist Paolo Bombelli noted,that they were very surprised that the battery lasted so long. Initially, they believed that she would be able to power the computer with energy for no more than a few weeks. The results are very encouraging, because this is the first step towards creating a completely harmless source of energy. It is expected that, at a minimum, a battery of bacteria will be able to power the elements of a smart home. For example, people can buy an electronic thermometer or other sensor and place it outside their home. Thanks to the new power supply, owners won't have to change batteries often. The author of scientific work Christopher Howe (Christopher Howe) believes that due to the growing number of devices, humanity needs devices that generate energy, and not just store it.

The generated energy should be enough to run small computers like the Raspberry pi

Sounds intriguing and technology reallyworthy of attention. After all, the created battery has a fairly long service life and does not harm nature. Is it just going to be on sale? Personally, I don't think this will happen. Or, cyanobacteria will become an integral part of batteries in a different form - the current technology is too crude.


Most likely, you will also have many doubts and questions about this technology. Write in the comments or in our Telegram chat.