When we first stumbled upon the website for a company called Plant-e, we were intrigued to say the least. Plant-e claims to be combining living plants and their patented technology to generate electricity without harvesting or harming the plants. The front page of their website boasts the following:
“Do you want to use your lawn to charge your electric car? Use your green roof to power your house? Would you like to see each wetland and rice paddy field in the world turned into a power plant without harvesting the plants? Plant-e is a company that develops and produces products in which living plants generate electricity.”
Yes, that got our attention. How can this be done? What are their methods to achieve this? Originally developed in the Netherlands at Wageningen University in 2007, their technology is mainly based on nature’s natural processes, so it is both safe for the plants and the environment. In this truly sustainable and clean energy. All that is needed is light, carbon dioxide, and water.
By providing the electrode for the micro-organisms to donate their electrons to, the electrons are harvested as electricity. Being that this process is totally safe for the plants, the plants can keep growing as the electricity is concurrently produced. As their technology continues to improve, they believe that this technology will be highly scaleable to help meet the energy needs of our rapidly expanding modern society.
Dr. David Strik, the founder of Plant-e describes how their process works:
“Plants live on solar energy, and through the process of photosynthesis, the plant creates organic matter. About half of this organic matter is transported via the plant roots into the soil. There, the naturally occurring bacteria break down the organic matter. In this process, electrons and protons are produced as a kind of waste product. By providing a common electrode, we can harvest these energy rich electrons. In our technology, the electrons flow to a power harvester, then to a cathode where oxygen, protons and electrons meet to produce power. So by placing two common electrodes in the soil, we can literally produce green electricity.”
Watch the short video below for more details.