Recently, scientists developed a processor powered by photosynthesis from algae. The creators of the small system are scientists from the University of Cambridge, and their processor has been working continuously for over a year. Their research gives hope for creating a stable, renewable power source for small devices.
The size of the entire system is comparable to the small AA batteries. It consists of algae, a small aluminum electrode and a microprocessor. Everything is made of cheap, widely available and mostly recyclable materials. The creators of the system say that it will be most useful in places where there is no access to energy networks, and where small amounts of energy are needed, like power sensors.
Our system does not have the problem of running out of energy because sunlight is used to produce it, he adds. During the experiment that is currently underway, algae are used to power the Arm Cortex M0 + processor. Powered by algae, the processor worked both indoors and outdoors. It was exposed to natural changes in light and temperature. We were impressed with the continuity of his work.
Algae do not need any special nutrition as they provide themselves and the processor with energy through photosynthesis. And although light is required to carry it out, the processor was powered even during periods of darkness. The algae were still carrying out metabolic processes.
The creators of the system point out that it would be impractical to power billions of the Internet of Things with currently used lithium-ion batteries. This would require more lithium than we currently produce. And traditional photovoltaic cells are manufactured with the use of environmentally hazardous materials. Hence the need to develop new, stable and environmentally friendly energy sources.
If you want to take a closer look at the solution, I recommend visiting the creators’ article: https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2022/EE/D2EE00233G