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posted by hubie on Friday May 13, @05:27PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the electric-slime dept.

Algae-powered computing: Scientists create reliable and renewable biological photovoltaic cell:

Researchers have used a widespread species of blue-green algae to power a microprocessor continuously for a year -- and counting -- using nothing but ambient light and water. Their system has potential as a reliable and renewable way to power small devices.

The system, comparable in size to an AA battery, contains a type of non-toxic algae called Synechocystis that naturally harvests energy from the sun through photosynthesis. The tiny electrical current this generates then interacts with an aluminium electrode and is used to power a microprocessor.

[...] "The growing Internet of Things needs an increasing amount of power, and we think this will have to come from systems that can generate energy, rather than simply store it like batteries," said Professor Christopher Howe in the University of Cambridge's Department of Biochemistry, joint senior author of the paper.

[...] In the experiment, the device was used to power an Arm Cortex M0+, which is a microprocessor used widely in Internet of Things devices. It operated in a domestic environment and semi-outdoor conditions under natural light and associated temperature fluctuations, and after six months of continuous power production the results were submitted for publication.

Journal Reference:
P. Bombelli, A. Savanth, A. Scarampi, et al. Powering a microprocessor by photosynthesis, Energy & Environmental Science, 2022.
DOI: 10.1039/D2EE00233G


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  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @05:55PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @05:55PM (#1244788)

    The algae are non-toxic for now, but once enough people are using them they become toxic and start charging a monthly fee and stealing your personal data.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @06:39PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @06:39PM (#1244794)

    Hmm, why does that sound familiar?

  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @06:49PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @06:49PM (#1244800)

    Duke Nukem Forever (2001 Build)

    https://archive.org/details/duke-nukem-forever-2001-x-0r-jmp [archive.org] [archive.org]

    NOBODY STEALS OUR CHICKS, AND LIVES!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @07:25PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @07:25PM (#1244802)

    I find it to be a huge red flag that they used it to power a microprocessor instead of routing the power through instrumentation that could measure its electrical properties over time. It makes the whole thing reek of publicity stunt.

    • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @08:09PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @08:09PM (#1244812)

      No, a publicity stunt would have been hooking it up to a bitcoin mining rig allowing the blue-green algae to become billionaires, have them offer to buy Twitter before tweeting that they changed their mind, and then slither back to the swamp they came from.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @10:36PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @10:36PM (#1244826)

      No reason it can't be both. If you want to argue that your solution can poser IoT devices, there's not much better of a demonstration you can do than take the processor used in IoT devices and power that. It is much more powerful than showing a power vs. time curve or something.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 14, @04:02AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 14, @04:02AM (#1244890)
      I'm pretty sure they did electrical instrumentation that measured how much power it was providing. The microprocessor is a realistic load.
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