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.
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 MITNewsOffice on Feb 2, 2012.