For Mitrofanova, this project is not just about having an attractive source of renewable energy in one’s home, although that is certainly a possible application. She has bigger ideas about how such a system could be used, hoping that the concept might be scaled up for use on an urban scale. She used moss for her prototype, but acknowledges that other types of plant life or algae can also be used. Because moss is already found in urban environments – in sidewalk cracks and on rooftops and walls – it seems like the perfect medium for a plant-based energy production system.
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The way her microbial fuel cells work is simple science, harnessing the energy generated during photosynthesis for practical applications. The pod design of the project was inspired to make it scalable, depending on the amount of electricity desired. Mitrofanova illustrates this concept with a graphic depicting, in square feet of moss voltaics, how much would be required to power different devices, ranging from a simple lightbulb to a Seqway.
Images via Elena Mitrofanova