Image: University of Cambridge/Reproduction
Researchers at the University of Cambridge, UK, have developed a cyanobacterial-based battery capable of sustaining a computer processor for six months.
The microorganisms were placed in a container not much larger than an AA battery. The box is made of cheap and recyclable materials, which makes the equipment sustainable.
Cyanobacteria were able to use sunlight to create electricity. They powered an Arm Cortex M0+ processor, which allowed a computer to run in 45-minute cycles, with 15 off. The study describing the creation was published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.
Scientists believe that cyanobacteria release electrons during the process of photosynthesis, which allows for electrical current. However, the functioning remained stable even in dark environments, leading to the belief that algae also process some of their food when there is no light.
The machine was subjected to simple tasks only. Even so, the team was impressed by the battery life, which lasted for six months. According to the researchers, the device will be useful in the so-called “Internet of Things” – a vast and growing network of electronics equipped with sensors, software and other technologies.
The Internet of Things ranges from smartwatches to other smart home appliances. By 2035, the world could have as many as a trillion of these devices, which are mainly powered by lithium. It’s time to find renewable energy sources to sustain them.