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.
Receive an email update when we add a new BACTERIA-POWERED SOLAR CELL article.
The Latest on: Bacteria-powered solar cell
via Google News
The Latest on: Bacteria-powered solar cell
- Bacteria-powered solar cell converts light to energy on July 11, 2018 at 10:52 am
In Canada, University of British Columbia researchers 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 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 previous... […]
- 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 B... […]
- Bacteria-packed solar cell soaks up the Sun even behind clouds on July 6, 2018 at 1:52 am
Microscopic organisms were some of the first things to tap into the Sun for energy, so it follows to use them to make better solar cells. Now, researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) h... […]
- Bacteria-powered solar cell can produce electricity on cloudy days on July 5, 2018 at 7:10 am
TORONTO: Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have discovered a low-cost and sustainable way to build a solar cell using bacteria, that can harvest energy from light even under overcast skies. ... […]
- Scientists create bacteria-powered solar cells that can work under cloudy skies on July 5, 2018 at 4:37 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 m... […]
- Bacteria-powered solar panels could work in cloudy skies on July 5, 2018 at 3:21 am
Canadian researchers have created a bacteria-powered solar cell that works as efficiently in dim light as in bright light. It could lead to wider adoption of solar technology in areas of the world whe... […]
- Bacteria-powered solar cell can produce electricity on cloudy days on July 4, 2018 at 5:00 pm
Various media outlets reported that UBC researchers developed a low-cost and sustainable way to build a solar cell using bacteria that can harvest energy on cloudy days. Vikramaditya Yadav, a professo... […]
via Bing News