UBC researchers have found a cheap, sustainable way to build a solar cell using bacteria that convert light to energy.
Their cell generated a current stronger than any previously recorded from such a device, and worked as efficiently in dim light as in bright light.
This innovation could be a step toward wider adoption of solar power in places like British Columbia and parts of northern Europe where overcast skies are common. With further development, these solar cells—called “biogenic” because they are made of living organisms—could become as efficient as the synthetic cells used in conventional solar panels.
“Our solution to a uniquely B.C. problem is a significant step toward making solar energy more economical,” said Vikramaditya Yadav, a professor in UBC’s department of chemical and biological engineering who led the project.
Solar cells are the building blocks of solar panels. They do the work of converting light into electrical current. Previous efforts to build biogenic solar cells have focused on extracting the natural dye that bacteria use for photosynthesis. It’s a costly and complex process that involves toxic solvents and can cause the dye to degrade.
The UBC researchers’ solution was to leave the dye in the bacteria. They genetically engineered E. coli to produce large amounts of lycopene—a dye that gives tomatoes their red-orange colour and is particularly effective at harvesting light for conversion to energy. The researchers coated the bacteria with a mineral that could act as a semiconductor, and applied the mixture to a glass surface.
With the coated glass acting as an anode at one end of their cell, they generated a current density of 0.686 milliamps per square centimetre—an improvement on the 0.362 achieved by others in the field.
“We recorded the highest current density for a biogenic solar cell,” said Yadav. “These hybrid materials that we are developing can be manufactured economically and sustainably, and, with sufficient optimization, could perform at comparable efficiencies as conventional solar cells.”
The cost savings are difficult to estimate, but Yadav believes the process reduces the cost of dye production to about one-tenth of what it would be otherwise. The holy grail, Yadav said, would be finding a process that doesn’t kill the bacteria, so they can produce dye indefinitely.
He added that there are other potential applications for these biogenic materials in mining, deep-sea exploration and other low-light environments.
The Latest on: Bacteria-powered solar cell
via Google News
The Latest on: Bacteria-powered solar cell
- Solar Energy: The Latest Architecture and News on February 19, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Image Courtesy of Flickr/LillyAndersen via University of British Columbia Researchers at the University of British Columbia have unveiled details of their recently-designed “bacteria-powered solar ... ... […]
- Bacteria powered solar cell converts light to energy - Researchers on July 10, 2018 at 2:28 am
Science Daily reported that researchers have found a cheap, sustainable way to build a solar cell using bacteria that convert light to energy. Their cell generated a current stronger than any ... […]
- Bacteria-powered solar cell can produce energy even when skies are overcast on July 9, 2018 at 8:14 am
Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) have developed a sustainable “biogenic” solar cell, which uses bacteria to convert light into energy and has generated the strongest current ... […]
- Bacteria-powered solar cell works under dark skies on July 7, 2018 at 11:30 am
In advancing energy capture, scientists have developed a bacteria-powered solar cell that can convert light to energy, even when operating under overcast skies. Scientists based at the University of ... […]
- Bacteria-Powered Solar Cells Make Electricity Even With Cloudy Skies on July 6, 2018 at 10:02 am
Researchers from the University of British Columbia have come up with an ingenious solution to the problem of overcast skies for solar cells. They have constructed bacteria-powered solar cells that ... […]
- Clouds Are No Problem for New Bacteria-Powered Solar Panels on July 5, 2018 at 5:00 pm
That’s still not quite enough to compete with traditional solar panels, but this new bacteria-powered solar cell does have other advantages as well. In particular, the photosynthetic chemicals used by ... […]
- Bacteria-powered solar cell converts light to energy, even under overcast skies on July 5, 2018 at 5:55 am
Researchers have found a cheap, sustainable way to build a solar cell using bacteria that convert light to energy. Their cell generated a current stronger than any previously recorded from such a ... […]
- Scientists create bacteria-powered solar cells that can work under cloudy skies on July 5, 2018 at 4:17 am
Scientists have developed solar cells powered by bacteria that can work even if the sky is cloudy. Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada have genetically engineered the ... […]
- Bacteria-powered solar cell converts light to energy, even under overcast skies on July 5, 2018 at 1:03 am
(Nanowerk News) University of British Columbia researchers have found a cheap, sustainable way to build a solar cell using bacteria that convert light to energy (Small, "A Biogenic Photovoltaic ... […]
via Bing News