Charging your phone using a green electricity roof


When I first heard about Plant-e I could not believe that this was actually possible. It seemed to me like science fiction. Capturing energy from the roots of living plants and charging your phone with it. Imagine in five years from now roofs in cities all over the world are covered with energy producing grass that can be used to charge phones and form a new source of electricity.

Plant-e develops products in which living plants generate electricity. These products are based technology that was developed at Wageningen University, which was patented in 2007. The technology enables Plant-e to produce electricity from living plants at practically every site where plants can grow. The technology is based on natural processes and doesn’t harm the plant or its environment.

Via photosynthesis a plant produces organic matter. Part of this organic matter is used for plant-growth, but a large part can’t be used by the plant and is excreted into the soil via the roots. Around the roots naturally occuring micro-organisms break down the organic compounds to gain energy from. In this process, electrons are released as a waste product. By providing an electrode for the micro-organisms to donate their electrons to, the electrons can be harvested as electricity. Research has shown that plant-growth isn’t compromised by harvesting electricity, so plants keep on growing while electricity is concurrently produced.

Technology plant-e

The company was founded in 2009 by David Strik and Marjolein Helder, both researchers at the sub-department of Environmental Technology of Wageningen University. They both research the technology to produce electricity from living plants, without harvesting the plants.

A first prototype of this the green electricity roof was installed on the roof of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Wageningen last summer. A patch of 15 m2 green electricity roof is being tested in a pilot experiment. Apart from the green electricity roof a system for decentralized electricity production in developing and remote areas is being developed, as well as a system for large scale centralized electricity production. Recently, Plant-e was awarded the life sciences pre-seed grant. The pre-seed grant of €250,000.- was awarded for further development of the technology and the businessplan of Plant-e. This should lead to market introduction of the first product in 2013.

For more information about Plant-e click here


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