ALTERNATIVE ENERGY: Power Plants… Literally?

June 11, 2015 / Comments (2)

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Alternative energy can be found in plants. Indeed it sounds like science fiction, but Dutch scientists have found a way to harvest electricity from plants.  When the plants perform photosynthesis, they convert solar energy into chemical energy (carbohydrates) that they use to grow.  However, they don’t use it all themselves.  Some of this energy is released through the roots to feed micro-organisms that in turn provide minerals to the plants.  But it’s not a perfectly closed system, so some energy escapes, and this is what scientists have been able to harvest.

Plants as Alternative Energy Source

You may be thinking, “What does this have to do with prepping?” Well, imagine if your garden could provide electricity as well as food. Getting off the power grid would be highly beneficial, especially when a disaster strikes. It will be comforting to know that even when the grid is down, you have your very own source. You may already have batteries, a generator, and maybe even solar panels.  But the more options you have, like alternative energy from plants, the better.

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Via photosynthesis a plant produces organic matter. Part of this organic matter is used for plant-growth, but a large part can’t be used by the plant and is excreted into the soil via the roots. Around the roots naturally occurring micro-organisms break down the organic compounds to gain energy from. In this process, electrons are released as a waste product. By providing an electrode for the micro-organisms to donate their electrons to, the electrons can be harvested as electricity. Research has shown that plant-growth isn’t compromised by harvesting electricity, so plants keep on growing while electricity is concurrently produced.

What are your thoughts?  Is plant power the way of the future, or just a pipe dream?  Let us know in the comments.

Want to know more? Check out these related articles:

A New Take on Alternative Energy: The Tesla Powerwall

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Alternative Energy: Get 1500 Watts of AC from Solar

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ALTERNATIVE ENERGY: Power Plants… Literally?

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