Electricity from Algae 7Last month, a news article entitled Stealing Electricity from Algae (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36054602/ns/technology_and_science-science/) caught my attention. According to the news article, which was released on Mar 26, Scientists from Stanford University, California and Korea have harvested electric current from common algae, Chlamydomonas reinhartii.
These algae, when exposed to over voltage and simultaneously exposed to sunlight, produce electricity. In other words, these organisms produce free electrons when the cells are shocked by applying small current and exposed to sunlight.
The generated electrons are captured by inserting nano-scale electrodes into the chloroplasts of the cells. The anodes placed inside the cells will accept high energy electrons from the ferredoxin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferredoxin), a carrier of electrons, and pass them through an external circuit to capture electrical energy, and combine them with protons and oxygen to produce water.
For more technical details about harvesting electricity from algae, have a look at this pdf: Monitoring and Accessing Cellular photosynthesis Electrical Energy for Bio-electricity (http://gcep.stanford.edu/pdfs/SI3U6jOMPAIgwkaiBD_77Q/prinz_bioelec_ers06.pdf.
According to Fritz Prinz, a scientist from Stanford University, once energy can be extracted from singe cells, efforts will be scaled up to create cell arrays. Collections of cells pre-oriented by a light stimulus would be embedded in a hydrogel matrix layer for ease of manipulation. This layer will be assembled with a micro-probe electrode array linked to the cells chloroplasts. Electricity generated by panels of these oriented populations of algal cells could contribute to clean bioenergy production.
This innovation is definitely an important step towards bio-batteries. Login to Post a Comment