miércoles, 8 de mayo de 2013

Plant-e: living plants generate electricity


Plant-e develops products in which living plants generate electricity. These products are based on technology that was developed at Wageningen University, which was patented in 2007. The patent is now held by Plant-e. The technology enables us to produce electricity from living plants at practically every site where plants can grow. The technology is based on natural processes and is safe for both the plant, and its environment.

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 occuring 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. 

For more information on the technology and recent publications see

PlantPower - living plants in microbial fuel cells for clean, renewable, sustainable, efficient, in-situ bioenergy production
From 2009-01-01 to 2012-12-31 | PLANTPOWER website

Living plants in microbial fuel cells might be used as future large-scale Europe wide green energy providers. Such a system can produce in-situ 24 hours per day green electricity or biohydrogen without harvesting the plants. That this might become true was indicated by our first small scale proof of principle experiments describing the so called Plant Microbial Fuel Cell (Plant-MFC) (Strik, 2008, De Schamphelaire, 2008). The Plant-MFC aims to transform solar radiation into green electricity or biohydrogen in a clean and efficient manner. In the Plant-MFC concept, living plants and living microbes form an electrochemical system that is capable of sustainable production of green electricity or biohydrogen from solar energy. By its nature, the Plant-MFC is in potential 5 times more efficient than conventional bio-energy systems.

The technology might be implemented in several ways, ranging from local small scale electricity providers to large scale energy wetlands and islands, high-tech energy and food supplying greenhouses and novel biorefineries. This way, affordable bioenergy maybe produced in Europe as well as in developing countries. Plant-MFCs can be integrated in landscapes invisibly which makes this technology socially highly acceptable. However, exploration of new areas of science and technology is necessary to overcome Plant-MFCs bottlenecks and to make this principally clean, renewable and sustainable technology come true. It is now time to show that significant independent European biofuel and bioelectricity production is possible; we propose that Plant-MFCs can be an excellent choice for our future. We expect that Plant-MFC technology can at least cover 20% of Europe s primary energy need in a real clean and sustainable way. The Plant-MFC concept has several attractive qualities which can provide the significant break through for sustainable energy production in Europe. It will reinforcing competitiveness of Europe since Plant-MFC is world-wide implementable.

Project details
Project reference: 226532
Status: Completed

Total cost: EUR 5 209 687
EU contribution: EUR 3 989 080

Programme acronym: 

Subprogramme area: 

Contract type: 
Collaborative project (generic)



Publications (28)


aure Lapinsonniere - Matthieu Picot - Frederic Barriere
David P. B. T. B. Strik - Matthieu Picot - Cees J. N. Buisman - Frédéric Barrière
M. Picot - R. Rodulfo - I. Nicolas - A. Szymczyk - F. Barriere - M. Rabiller-Baudry

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