Canadian researchers have developed a power cell that generates electrical energy using the photosynthesis of blue-green algae, generating renewable energy while removing carbon from the atmosphere. Blue-green algae are the most prosperous microorganisms on Earth and were among the first organisms to generate oxygen through photosynthesis.
The new technology, which can be used for accumulating released energy, was proposed by engineers at Concordia University in Montreal. The photosynthetic power cell consists of an anode, cathode, and proton exchange membrane.
The blue-green algae are placed in the anode chamber, and as they undergo photosynthesis, they release electrons onto the electrode surface. With an external load attached to the cell, it’s possible to extract the electrons and harness power from the device.
As the algae undergo photosynthesis, electrons are released and can be drawn off into an external circuit, producing an electric current that can be used immediately or stored in a battery.
So far, the researchers have measured open-circuit voltage as high as 993 millivolts. If they can expand on these initial achievements, the engineers hope the system will one day be powerful enough to run small electronic devices like notebooks and smartphones.