(Pocket-lint) - Scientists are constantly working on new ways to power our technology in environmentally friendly ways. Battery tech is constantly evolving and the future of power is certainly interesting. We already have a lot of solar, wind and wave power solutions, but have you ever seen electricity generated by algae?
Over at Cambridge University, scientists have been working on interesting new techniques for powering devices using photosynthesis. New Scientist reports that Chris Howe and his colleagues have managed to craft a microcomputer housed inside a metal enclosure the size of a AA battery sealed with blue-green algae. That algae is photosynthesised which means the tiny device can generate enough electricity to power the ARM Cortex-M0+ chip nestled inside.
The enclosure was then deposited on the windowsill of researcher Paolo Bombelli's home during long down and stayed there for six months. During that time it carried out cycles where it calculated various sums in order to simulate a computational workload.
While it sat there it managed to generate enough electricity to power itself for six months with no power interruptions during that period. Even after the experiment ended it continued to produce power.
It is worth noting that the chip inside only needed 0.3 microwatts an hour in order to run. So don't expect to see your gaming PC being powered by algae anytime soon. That said, this is just a proof of concept at the moment and could certainly represent an interesting future for Internet of Things devices and, perhaps, power generation in general.
Professor Christoper Howe said "The growing Internet of Things needs an increasing amount of power, and we think this will have to come from systems that can generate energy, rather than simply store it like batteries...Our photosynthetic device doesn't run down the way a battery does because it's continually using light as the energy source."
According to Professor Howe, we won't be swapping our solar panels for algae ones in the near future:
"So putting one on your roof isn’t going to provide the power supply for your house at this stage. There’s quite a bit more to do on that front. But [it could work] in rural areas of low and middle income countries, for example, in applications where a small amount of power might be very useful, such as environmental sensors or charging a mobile phone."