In a breakthrough, researchers from Concordia University in Montreal have designed a power cell that uses blue-green algae to generate electricity, which could be used to power smartphones and computers in future. The prototype designed by the researchers is at very small scale and it will take years to produce electricity from large for the masses on a very large scale.
To generate electricity from algae, the technique harnesses the power of photosynthesis, one of the most common process where plants prepare their food in the presence of sunlight and carbon dioxide and release oxygen in the atmosphere. Researchers from Concordia University that led to new technique explained that during photosynthesis algae naturally generates electrons which can later be captured and stored in batteries to generate electricity. To transfer the electrons into the batteries, engineers stuck metal probes (centimetres long gold wires hanging out of green algae) into the plant and attached it with batteries to store the energy.
Muthukumaran Packirisame from the Concordia University said the new technique is very promising. Although it is in a preliminary stage of development but in coming five years it will generate enough electricity to charge your smartphone. He further added that solar energy is the first option today when it comes to renewable sources of energy, it would take another decade for energy generation of algae compete with the solar energy.
While comparing the solar energy with the algae technology, Packinirisame said that solar panels are made of crystalline silicon chip that is used in computers which is hazardous to environment while in generating electricity from algae no such hazardous product is used. Thus, energy from algae more environment-friendly than solar energy. In addition, unlike solar panels, electricity can be harvested from the green algae even at night.
Moreover, Packirisamy is looking for patenting the technique and will improve the efficiency of the method so that it can become feasible to use the electricity production method on a global scale.