Yes, you read the title correctly, the algae has been enough to power a basic computer for several months. A group of engineers from the University of Cambridge in the UK ran a microprocessor for more than six months using nothing more than current generated by a common type of cyanobacteria.
Cyanobacteria, also called cyanobacteria, are prokaryotic microorganisms capable of photosynthesis.
Algae as an energy source
Researchers at the University of Cambridge used cyanobacteria to obtain energy through photosynthesis. Using it, scientists were able to operate a computer for more than six months. As they say, the method is intended for powering a wide variety of electronic devices.
The growing Internet of Things needs an increasing amount of energy, and we believe this should come from systems that can generate energy, rather than just store it in batteries.
explained Christopher Howe, a biochemist.
In contrast to what is consumed on the Internet side, which we use to tweet and share videos on TikTok, the Internet of Things connects things with less “opinion”, such as washing machines, coffee makers, vehicles and environmental remote sensors.
In some cases, these devices operate away from the power grid. And there is not always the possibility that they have batteries or that these batteries can be recharged.
Photovoltaics (solar energy) is an obvious solution in today’s world, given the rapid progress that has been made in recent years to extract more energy from each ray of sunlight. However, if we need electricity at night, we will have to add a battery to the solar panels, which not only adds mass, but requires a mixture of potentially expensive and even toxic materials.
What if there was a way to produce living energy?
In fact, it has great potential. Creating a “living” energy source that transforms substances in the environment, such as methane, makes energy cells greener, simpler, and doesn’t fade when the sun goes down.
Algae may be the solution that offers an intermediate option, acting as a solar cell and battery powered to provide reliable current without the need to recharge nutrients. Algae is already being explored as a power source for larger operations, and it can also power countless small devices.
Our photosynthetic apparatus does not work like a battery because it constantly uses light as an energy source.
A type AA cell has a volume of 4 microwatts per square centimeter
Your bio PV system uses aluminum wool for the anode, primarily because it is relatively easy to recycle and less problematic for the environment than many other options. It also allowed the team to study how living systems interact with aluminum air batteries that generate energy.
The “biological” part of the hive was a strain of freshwater cyanobacteria called Synechocystis, selected for their ubiquity and the fact that they have been extensively studied.
Under ideal lab conditions, a cell-sized version of an AA battery was able to produce just over four microwatts per square centimeter. Even when the lights were off, the algae continued to break down the food pans to generate a smaller but still appreciable current.
These values may seem low, but when you only need a little power to run, the power of the algae can suffice!
A low-inhibitable 32-bit programmable processor, commonly used in microcontrollers, was given a set of chews during a 45-minute session, followed by a 15-minute rest period.
The processor was left in ambient lab light, able to run for more than six months, showing that simple algae-based batteries are more than capable of powering primitive computers.
English for Scientists
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