Plant-e, a company based out of the Netherlands, has found a way to harness electricity from living plants, using them to power Wi-Fi hotspots, cell phone chargers, and even streetlights. The company debuted their project, called “Starry Sky,” in November of 2014 near Amsterdam, where they lit up more than 300 LED streetlights at two different sites. Their plant power technology is also being used to power the company’s headquarters in Wageningen.
The company was founded in 2009, and was a spin-off from the department of Environmental Technology of Wageningen University. Again, they develop products in which living plants generate electricity. Their technology allows them to produce electricity from practically every site where plants can grow.
"Through photosynthesis a plant produces organic matter. Part of this matter is used by the plant for its own growth, but a large part of the matter can’t be used by the plant and is excreted into the soil via the roots. In the soil, naturally occurring bacteria break down the organic matter, and release electrons in the process. The technology that Plant-e is working with, makes it possible to use the electrons for electricity. Research has shown that the plants are not compromised by harvesting the electrons, so the plants can keep on growing while electricity is produced." - Plant-E
While collecting energy from plants is not a new concept, Plant-e is the first company to utilize the technology without harming the plants. The process of collecting energy from plants isn’t extremely complicated. Microbes break down waste sugars leftover from the plant during photosynthesis, and turns them into protons and electrons; then Plant-e uses electrodes to mobilize electrons into usable energy. Imagine using your lawn to power your electric car, or your green roof to power your house!
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