BY: DUSTIN BATTY
There has been a big push in recent years for the use of “green” energy, and this has manifested itself in the rapid development of solar and wind energy technology. The most recent addition to the green energy arsenal takes the term a bit more literally.
A study that was published in February 2017 shows that electricity can be produced from living plants. The scientists used a rose, inducing the flower to absorb a solution with a conducting material in its base. This material traveled up the stem of the rose using the same route that water and nutrients take to reach the leaves and petals. As it traveled along this route, the material formed a wire in the stem along which electricity could flow. These wires allowed the scientists to make transistors and digital circuits within the rose. The material also found its way into the leaves of the rose, a breakthrough in the field of e-plants.
Electric plants are the newest form of green energy. They still require a lot of research before their full potential can be realized.
The report says that these developments “are preludes to energy-harvesting devices, sensors, and localized addressing components for plant control and optimization.” This method seems to be the most effective approach to creating e-plants to date. Unlike other techniques, such as the extraction of the electric current caused during photosynthesis or microbial fuel cells that feed on the organic waste given off by plant roots, this most recent method both converts energy into a useful form and stores it within the plant.
The parallel nature of the wires running up the stem, along with the electrolytes that naturally pervade the plant tissue, make the plant an effective supercapacitor, able to hold a charge or discharge it as needed. Though more studies have to be conducted before living plants become a viable source of electricity, it looks like we are well on our way to creating a new form of alternative energy.
The most recent tests showed that a rose provided enough energy to power a pump or a switch.
According to a Science Daily article on the study, after this technology is further developed, we could be “harvesting energy from plants to power sensors and various types of switches.” E-plants could be a good source of localized eco-friendly energy that would be easy to keep inside a home to power lights or small appliances.
The energy of the future looks like it will be greener than ever as electronic plants become a more viable means of power production and distribution.