Scientists fed a computer for 6 months with just algae

Yes, you read the title correctly, it was enough algae to power a basic computer for many months. A group of engineers from the University of Cambridge in the UK powered a microprocessor for more than six months using nothing more than current generated by a common species of cyanobacteria.

Cyanobacteria, also called blue algae, are prokaryotic microorganisms capable of photosynthesis.

Algae as an energy source

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have used cyanobacteria to obtain energy through the process of photosynthesis. With it, scientists managed to power a computer for more than six months. As they say, the method is intended for powering a wide range of electronic devices.

The growing Internet of Things needs an increasing amount of power, and we believe this will need to come from systems that can generate power, rather than just store it in batteries.

Explain Christopher Howespecialist in biochemistry.

Unlike what is consumed on the Internet side, which we use to tweet and share videos on TikTok, the Internet of Things connects objects with less "opinion", such as washing machines, coffee makers, vehicles and remote environmental sensors.

In some cases, these devices operate far from a power grid. And there is not always a chance that they have batteries or that these batteries can be recharged.

Photovoltaic (solar energy) cells are an obvious solution in today's world, given the rapid progress that has been made in recent years to extract more energy from each ray of sunlight. However, if we need electricity at night, we will have to add a battery to the solar panels, which not only adds mass, but requires a mixture of potentially expensive and even toxic substances.

What if there was a way to produce living energy?

In fact, it has great potential. The creation of a "living" source of energy that converts matter in the environment, like methanemakes the power cell greener, simpler, and does not fade at sunset.

Algae may be the solution that offers an intermediate option, acting as a solar cell and powered battery to provide reliable current without the need for nutrient recharging. Already being explored as a power source for larger operations, algae could also power countless small devices.

Our photosynthetic apparatus does not work like a battery because it continuously uses light as its energy source.

These Howes.

Cell type AA cell reaches 4 microwatts per square centimeter

Your bio-PV system uses aluminum wool for an anode, primarily because it is relatively easy to recycle and less of an issue for the environment compared to many other options. It also allowed the team to study how living systems interact with aluminum-air batteries that generate energy.

The "biological" part of the cell was a strain of freshwater cyanobacteria called Synechocystselected for its ubiquity and the fact that it has been so widely studied.

Under perfect laboratory conditions, a cellular version the size of an AA battery managed to produce just over four microwatts per square centimeter. Even when the lights were off, the algae continued to break down food stores to generate a smaller but still appreciable current.

These values ​​may not seem like much, but when you just need a little energy to run, the power of algae can be enough!

A low-inhibit 32-bit programmable processor, commonly used in microcontrollers, was given a set of chews during a 45-minute session, followed by a 15-minute rest.

Left in the ambient light of the laboratory, the the processor managed to work for more than six monthsdemonstrating that simple algae-based batteries are more than capable of running rudimentary computers.

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