viernes, 16 de enero de 2015

Welcome to Plant-e

Do you want to use your lawn to charge your electric car? Use your green roof to power your house? Would you like to see each wetland and rice paddy field in the world turned into a power plant without harvesting the plants? Plant-e is a company that develops and produces products in which living plants generate electricity.

The company was founded on September 14, 2009 as a spin-off from the sub-department of Environmental Technology of Wageningen University by David Strik and Marjolein Helder. Since her PhD-graduation in November 2012 Marjolein is working full-time as CEO of Plant-e. David works as an assistant professor at Wageningen University, while supporting Plant-e’s R&D one day a week.


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 occurring 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.

Living plants in microbial fuel cells might be integrated in wetlands to create large-scale green powerplants.

How does that work?
Plants photosynthesize organic matter using solar energy. A significant part of this organic matter is released into the soil. There electrochemically active micro-organisms break down the organic matter producing electrons which are transported to the anode of the fuel cell. The energy rich electrons flow through a load to the cathode to generate 24 hours per day electricity.

The idea for this technology came from Dr. ir. Bert Hamelers. In 2008 the proof-of-principle of the technology was published (Strik et al. 2008; De Schamphelaire et al. 2008). From 2009 to 2012 an European consortium explored new areas of science to develop the plant-microbial fuel cell. This project resulted in spin-off company Plant-e that develops and produces products in which living plants generate electricity. Currently world-wide research groups investigate the technology.

For more information on the technology and recent publications see


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