Scientists fed a computer for 6 months with just algae

Yes, you read the title right, just algae was enough to power a basic computer for many months. A group of engineers at the University of Cambridge in the UK powered a microprocessor for more than six months using nothing more than current generated by a common species of cyanobacteria.

Cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, are prokaryotic microorganisms capable of photosynthesis.


Algae as a source of energy

Researchers at the University of Cambridge used cyanobacteria to get energy through the process of photosynthesis. With it, scientists managed to power a computer for more than half a year. As they say, the method is intended to supply power to a wide range of electronic devices.

The growing Internet of Things needs an increasing amount of energy, and we think this will have to come from systems that can generate energy, rather than simply storing it as batteries.

explained Christopher Howebiochemical specialist.

Unlike what is consumed on the Internet side, which we use to tweet and share videos on TikTok, the Internet of Things connects objects with less “opinion”, such as washing machines, coffeemakers, vehicles and remote environmental sensors.

In some cases, these devices work far from a power grid. And there is not always a chance that they have batteries or that these batteries can be recharged.

Photovoltaic cells (solar energy) are an obvious solution in today’s world, given the rapid progress that has been made in recent years in squeezing more energy out of every ray of sunshine. However, if we need power overnight, we will have to add a battery to the solar panels, which not only adds mass, but requires a mixture of potentially costly and even toxic substances.

What if there was a way to produce living energy?

In fact, it has great potential. Creating a “living” energy source that converts material in the environment, such as methane, makes the energy cell greener, simpler, and doesn’t weaken as the sun sets.

Algae may be the solution that provides a middle ground option, acting as a solar cell and live battery to provide reliable current without the need for nutrient recharge. Already under exploration as a power source for larger operations, algae could also power countless tiny devices.

Our photosynthetic device does not work like a battery because it is continually using light as a source of energy.

These Howe.

AA cell type cell achieved 4 microwatts per square centimeter

Your bio-photovoltaic system uses aluminum wool for an anode, mainly because it is relatively easy to recycle and less of a problem for the environment compared to many other options. It also provided the team with an opportunity to investigate how living systems interact with aluminum-air batteries that generate energy.

The ‘biological’ part of the cell was a strain of freshwater cyanobacteria called Synechocystisselected for its ubiquity and the fact that it has been studied so extensively.

Under perfect laboratory conditions, a cell version the size of an AA battery managed to produce just over four microwatts per square centimeter. Even when the lights were off, the algae continued to break down food stores to generate a smaller but still appreciable current.

These values ​​may not seem like much, but when you just need a little energy to run, algae power can be enough!

A low-inhibition 32-bit programmable processor, commonly used in microcontrollers, was given a set of sums to chew during a 45-minute session, followed by a 15-minute rest.

Left in the ambient light of the laboratory, the processor managed to run for more than six monthsdemonstrating that simple algae-based batteries are more than capable of running rudimentary computers.


Source: Pplware by pplware.sapo.pt.

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