stories on progressPlant-e makes electricity from living plants

Combining food + energy production.
March 10, 2021

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Plants could soon provide our electricity. In a small way they already are doing that in research labs and greenhouses at project Plant-e — a university and commercially sponsored research group at Wageningen University + Research in the Netherlands.

The Plant Microbial Fuel Cell from Plant-e can generate electricity from the natural interaction between plant roots and soil bacteria. It works by taking advantage of the up to 70 percent of organic material produced by a plant’s photo-synthesis process that cannot be used by the plant — and is excreted through the roots.

As natural occurring bacteria around the roots break down this organic residue, electrons are released as a waste product. By placing an electrode close to the bacteria to absorb these electrons, the research team — led by Marjolein Helder PhD — is able to generate electricity.

Helder said: “Solar panels are making more energy per square meter — but we expect to reduce the costs of our system technology in the future. And our system can be used for a variety of applications.”

Plant Microbial Fuel Cells can be used on many scales. An experimental 15 square meter model can produce enough energy to power a computer notebook.

Currently Plant-e is working on a system for large scale electricity production in existing green areas like wetlands and rice paddy fields.

Uses for this valuable technology.

Helder said: “Our technology is making electricity — but also could be used as roof insulation or as a water collector. On a bigger scale it’s possible to produce rice and electricity at the same time, and in that way combine food and energy production.”

A first prototype of a green electricity roof has been installed on one building at Wageningen University + Research — and researchers are keeping a close eye on what is growing there. The first field pilots will be started in 2014. The tech was patented in 2007.

After 5 years of lab research: Plant-e is now taking the first steps toward commercializing the technology. In the future, bio-electricity from plants could produce as much as 3.2 watts per square meter of plant growth.

note: with materials from EuroNews

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group: Plant-e
tag line: Spark of nature.
web: home ~ channel

Plant-e is making electricity from living plants.

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format: Adobe

presented by

group: Wageningen Univ. + Research
tag line: To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life.
web: home ~ channel


1. |  An introduction to Planet-e — watch
2. | Living plants generate electricity — watch
3. | The power of plants. — watch
4. The next step in development — watch



1. |

group: Wageningen Univ. + Research
tag line: To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life.
web: homechannel

story title: Dutch Innovation Award for ePlant
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research institutes:

for plant research | home
centre for development innovation | home