Looking into fossil fuel alternatives is an ongoing process, in which many powerful energy companies are not to ready/willing to invest. Luckily, besides economical profitability, there are also small scale companies whom strife for a greener future and work hard on finding ways to produce clean, renewable energy.
One of these companies is Plant-e.
Plant-e develops and produces products in which living plants generate electricity. The system works best in wetlands or watery fields like rice paddies, yet also grows in areas unsuitable for growing crops.
The idea behind the system is surprisingly simple. Via photosynthesis, the natural process of converting light energy into chemical energy, a plant produces organic matter. Part of this organic matter is used for plant-growth, but a large part cannot be used by the plant and is excreted into the soil via the roots. By placing an electrode near the roots, it’s easy to harvest this waste, resulting in clean and renewable energy, while the plant remains alive.
This technology, successfully tested on a “green-roof” in Holland, is already able to generate enough energy to power a cell phone.
Hopefully, soon enough the method will also be able to harvest a significant amount of electricity to power a house, and perhaps, maybe someday help break our addiction to fossil fuels.
Good news, is that the projects is getting support from the EU and Agentschap NL (an agency of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs), European and Dutch institutes, universities, and businesses, whom are cooperating to gain more knowledge about this technology and its applications.
Also, it might motivate to plant more trees and greenery, so we could, not only provide ourselves with more electricity, but also create more oxygen and animal habitat.
How this technology exactly works can best be explained by the video below.