Researchers at Peru’s University of Technology and Engineering (UTEC) have developed a technique for capturing the electricity emitted from plants. “Nutrients in plants encounter microorganisms called ‘geobacters’ in the dirt, and that process releases electrons that electrodes in the dirt can capture. A grid of these electrodes can transfer the electrons into a standard battery,” Slate’s Robby Berman explained.
UTEC has partnered with global ad agency FCB to produce 10 prototypes and distribute them to houses in the rainforest village of Nuevo Saposoa. The village is located in Ucayali, a region noted for having Peru’s lowest rate of access to electricity. Each contains an electrode grid buried in dirt, in which a single plant grows. The grid connects to a battery, which powers a large LED lamp attached to an adjustable arm on the outside of the box.
The lamps run for 2 hours a day and provide bright LED lighting with low power consumption, which in this case is sourced from nutrients in the plant and soil itself. The plant lamps run on the free electrons of microorganisms released by the plants during their growth.
“We put the plant and soil into a wooden plant pot together with a previously established and properly protected irrigation system,” said engineer Elmer Ramirez from Peru’s University of Technology and Engineering (UTEC). “Then, inside the pot we place the energy generation system that we created which stores soil and electrodes capable of converting plant nutrients into electric energy.”
“We made proper use of the Amazon region’s own natural resources such as the soil and plants, in harmony with the environment without any impact whatsoever on the forest,” explained Ramirez.
Learn more about the innovative plant lamps in the video below: