Did you ever dream that your reading lamp would one day be powered by living organisms? Well, commercialization of such a product is at least five years out, but UK designers are working furiously with Cambridge University researchers to develop biophotovoltaic (BPV) devices that generate renewable energy from the photosynthesis of algae and moss. Because this is such a crazy concept for many people to absorb, Alex Driver and Carlos Peralta have come up with a few renders of ordinary objects that could eventually be powered with BPVs in order to facilitate both imaginations and the research process. The moss lamp featured above is just one of them, but check out the off shore power station comprised of algae-filled lily pads that produce the same amount of energy as a standard wind farm and a few other designs after the jump!
This collaborative BPV research at Cambridge University funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) could send serious ripples through the renewable energy sector if it reaches commercial scale. Algae and moss are fast-growing organisms that require little more than a bit of sun and water to stay alive. While these organisms are in the midst of photosynthesizing, energy can be extracted from them to power photovoltaic panels. Driver and Peralta believe that this technology could compete with silicon-based solar panels in the next 5-10 years, which is compelling since solar panels are often criticized for being resource-heavy to develop.
Applications for BPVs are numerous: moss in a table can be harvested directly to power a lamp, an array of algae-powered solar panels can be used for domestic consumption, and a near-shore generator can harvest desalinated water, or a forest of solar collecting masts can harvest water to keep energy-generating algae alive. If this concept rocks your socks as much as ours and you live in the UK, be sure to stop by the London Design Festival in September to chat with Driver and Peralta in person about the latest, most exciting development in renewable energy.