The Next Renewable Energy Focus: Biophotovoltaics
Biophotovoltaic (BPV) interface research on show during the London Design Festival.
Scientists at many universities struggle to emulate the process of photosynthesis in manufactured photovoltaic cells in order to achieve more efficient energy conversion. Meanwhile, Cambridge University researchers have been attempting to tap into nature itself for power. Cambridge scientist Paola Bombelli collaborated with designers Alex Driver and Carlos Peralta to develop energy-harnessing interfaces at a variety of scales.
Planned for display at London Design Week from September 22 to 25, their biophotovoltaic (BPV) designs range from plant-powered table lamps to giant algae-coated lily pads that aggregate to form offshore power plants, generating 5 to 6 watts per square meter. According to the designers, these algae farms would also "generate energy during the night as a result of excess electrons being stored inside the algal cells during daylight hours." This interdisciplinary research promises exciting future explorations in the area of living surfaces (literally).