Researchers Invented a Lamp Powered by Plants
Over 42 percent of people in the rainforest do not have electricity so scientists at the Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC) in Peru have come up with a way to light their homes with what they have most around them: plants and soil.
Using principles and findings from previous studies and researches from around the world, the group of engineers developed their own clean energy system prototype.
“Every plant produces nutrients and these nutrients —in contact with microorganisms in the earth called geobacter— undergo an oxidation process generating free electrons that are captured through electrodes,” explains Elmer, a UTEC faculty member in a video released by UTEC. “These electrodes are in a grid. This energy is stored in a conventional battery to be used to light an LED light bulb.”
Ten ‘plant-lamps,’ as they named the invention, have been given to families living in the rainforest villages of Nuevo Saposoa and Pucallpa in Peru. The villages do have an electrical grid but in March a flood damaged it, leaving everyone without access to electricity since. Students have been forced to study using kerosene lamps that are bad for their eyes and lungs, bringing smoke inside the house. Mothers also have had a hard time taking care of children after dark.
“We didn’t know that a plant could provide electricity for us to use,” said one resident. “You know that electricity is life for our children as well.”
The plant-lamps look like wooden boxes with a grid inside and a plant on top with a rectangular LED light bulb. The researchers hope the invention can help even more families in the future.
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