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This algae-based microprocessor system can replace batteries

Features

Oy-Vishal Kawadkar

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Researchers at the University of Cambridge in the UK have developed a computer that extracts energy from algae that extract energy directly from the sun. Cell AA is about the size of a battery and uses microorganisms called Synechocystis. These organisms photosynthesize sunlight to produce electric currents.

This algae-based microprocessor system can replace batteries

Even if the generated current is not heavy, it is sufficient to run a microprocessor. Interestingly, the system has been running continuously for over a year already.

Meeting growing needs

According to researchers, the system can be used to operate small devices in remote areas.

“The growing Internet of Things requires increasing power, and we expect it to come from systems that can generate energy without storing it like batteries.” Said Christopher Howe, one of the leading researchers.

“Our photosynthesis device does not work like a battery because it constantly uses light as a source of energy,” he added.

The science behind the system

The algae power used for the system is not hungry and requires nothing more than sunlight. In addition, the system is able to generate energy even at night, continuing the process of photosynthesis even in the absence of sunlight. The electric current generated by the algae goes directly to the aluminum electrode, from where it is transmitted to the processor.

To see if the system really works, the researchers added the system to the Arm Cortex M0 + microprocessor, a high-end processor that powers IoT devices. It has been tested under semi-outdoor conditions with normal variations in sunlight and temperature. This system was able to surpass the expectations of the researchers.

Time out for lithium batteries?

“We were impressed with how consistent this system has been for so long – we thought it might stop after a few weeks, but it’s still going on,” said Paulo Bombelli, another lead author of the study.

Researchers believe that such systems, built for inexpensive and widely available materials, could replace large lithium-ion batteries. It can also eliminate traditional photovoltaic systems that use materials that are harmful to the environment, especially at a time when IoT devices are expected to grow exponentially. Published in the Journal of Research Energy & Environmental Science.

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