The green roof idea is spreading fast and more and more urban areas become greener. Green roofs could be used for insulation, farming, stormwater retention, cooling or just to make a place greener and more beautiful, but can they be used to generate electricity? Actually, they can and Plant-e is the startup behind this awesome idea!
Plant-e is a Dutch startup founded by Marjolein Helder, and has developed a modular system that generates power from living plants without harming them or their environment.
How does it work?
Plants convert sunlight to energy during photosynthesis, produce organic matter and use part of it for their growth. What’s left from it is then excreted in the soil via the roots of the plants. Bacteria around the roots break down the organic matter in the soil and in this process they release electrons, which are captured via carbon electrode. The electrons are transferred to the carbon and are harvested via a wire and a second electrode to generate electricity. The carbon electrodes are inert, so they are harmless to the environment and the plants.
Plant-e has installed the world’s first green electricity roof on the Netherlands Institute of Ecology to prove its concept is working. The 15 square meters modular system is capable of charging a cell phone, but the plans for the future are much bigger than that. Plant-e plans to build complete green electricity roofs, which, according to Marjolein Helder, could provide electricity for a half of a household. The startup is developing a tubular system that can be drilled in horizontally in natural areas so that every wetland in the world can become a power plant! Generating electricity, while growing food! Imagine all the possibilities…
December 16, 2014