Biophotovoltaics – generating energy from photosynthesis

Two Cambridge University departments — the science-driven Biochemistry lab and the design-focused Institute for Manufacturing — have teamed up to dream up biophotovoltaic devices of the future.

Biophotovoltaics generate renewable energy (and a few other useful by-products) from the photosynthesis of living organisms like algae and moss. Prototype devices have recently been constructed and tested in Cambridge’s biochemistry laboratories, but turning it into a commercially-viable technology is a good few years off.

So to better communicate the potential for this exciting new energy source, Cambridge’s biochemists handed the reins to doctoral candidate Paolo Bombelli and designers Alex Driver and Carlos Peralta to come up with a range of conceptual products.

These include algae-based solar panels for the home and colossal algae-covered lily pads for offshore power generation. A biophotovoltaic power station would generate energy during the night, too, as a result of excess electrons being stored inside the algal cells during daylight hours.

Another design sees a forest of masts that draws sunlight and rainwater from the sky and water from the ground to keep the algae inside alive. A different forest would see towers use wind-energy, gathered from fans high up their masts, to draw water from the earth.

One of the designs, a familiar looking table that hides a farm full of energy-generating moss beneath its glass top, will be on show at the Designersblock in London from 22 September to 25 September.  Source:  Wired.CO.UK, by Mark Brown, Sept 21, 11.


MIT researcher Andreas Mershin has a vision that within a few years, people in remote villages in the developing world may be able to make their own solar panels, at low cost, using otherwise worthless agricultural waste as their raw material.  Uploaded by  on Feb 2, 2012.

About Adriana Siso

Adriana Siso launched Molecule Design in September 2010, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Molecule is the extension of a previous furniture design store that was founded in 2003 as an expansion on a career in fine art, which she pursued for more than 30 years. She brings her talents and uncompromising quest for practical and original products to the world of home furnishings and space design. Molecule carries contemporary industrial designer products that are approachable, remarkable, cutting edge, made to last, life enhancing, sometimes irreverent, and timeless. Later in 2006, Adriana started the process of conceiving the new showroom space that would house the store. Partly sustainable, the structure was built out of 11 recycled 40′ cargo containers. Completed in December 2010, it became the first cargo container building in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Always an explorer, Adriana loves to engage in the realms of discovery and innovation. InContext/Molecule Design's Magazine, launched in December 2011, is the venue where she collects the great stories of creative thinkers, who in our current state of affairs, sometimes under great pressures and working outside the realm of imposed standards, achieve the impossible. It has been known that in times of great crisis, design flourishes. It is Molecule's mission to show this light.

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