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By Adrian Raya
The need to stop relying on non-renewable energy has forced us to learn to exploit the natural resources that we have around us, such as the sun, water, wind, and… plants? That is what a renewable energy company wants.
The company is called Plant-e, and it aims to obtain electrical energy from living plants, taking advantage of their natural photosynthesis process but without damaging it. The researchers start from the assumption that a plant always produces more glucose than it needs for reserves; But if we guarantee their survival, they won't need those reserves and we can use them to generate energy.
The electrical energy of living plants that could power lights all over the world.
The plants grow in plastic containers of about two feet square; the leftover sugars pass through its roots to the substrate that has built-in electrodes, where it breaks down into protons and electrons.
In this way electricity can be generated, and even the researchers themselves were surprised at the amount. That electricity can then be used to power streetlights or traffic lights.
In the Netherlands, a country very open to this type of alternative renewable energy, they have installed this system in two different sites, for a total of 300 LED traffic lights. It is also used in Plant-e buildings and it is hoped that it can be used to bring light to the poorest areas of the world where plantations are numerous, such as rice fields.
However, there are still many challenges to do so, the first of which is to achieve a better cost / effectiveness ratio.