New Green Power Source ‘Blue-Green Algae’ Powered a Computer for Six Months

By: | May 20th, 2022

Image courtesy: University of Cambridge

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have successfully used blue-green algae to power a computer for six months.

Called algae cyanobacteria, commonly known as “blue-green algae”, it generates oxygen from photosynthesis when exposed to sunlight.

Sealed in a small AA battery-like container made of aluminum and plastic, it harnessed electrical energy from the photosynthesis and respiration of blue-green algae.

No need for rare and unsustainable materials 

Scientists believe that in the future blue-green algae could be used to power cell phones and other small devices for months or even years.

In 2015, researchers from Concordia University in Montreal led by engineering professor Muthukumaran Packirisamy developed this novel technology.

Using this technology, scientists from the University of Cambridge created a blue-green algae-packed device and placed it on a windowsill. It provided a continuous current for months.

Researchers suggested two potential theories for the power source

Either the bacteria itself is producing electrons, which creates a current, or it is creating conditions in which an aluminum anode in the container is corroded in a chemical reaction that produces electrons. 

Scientists believe that further research is needed before this approach could be scaled up to produce cheap and effective devices for commercial applications.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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