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Getting electricity directly from the soil  RSS feed

 
Jon Guah
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This is my first post at Permies.

I wonder if anyone has posted about Plant-e here yet? If not, that would blow me away. It is a low-tech system of getting electricity from garden soil.

Here is the CEO's TED Talk:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XXDoOwY8LE

I'm not a fan of the fashionable so-called "alternative energy" systems. Even solar strikes me as ugly and clumsy. I think there are a lot more elegant solutions like Plant-e out there staring us in the face. We just need to wake up.
 
John Weiland
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Location: RRV of da Nort
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Certainly the idea of an 'earth battery' has been discussed here before [ https://permies.com/t/40/55194/true ]  but this looks like a more interesting early-end-of-development idea.  Pretty low energy output it looks like at the moment, but with some technological boosts, may have a role in localized power production.

A link to some FAQs regarding the company and the technology (including a link to the PhD thesis of the CEO) can be found here:  http://www.plant-e.com/en/plant-e-faq/
 
Craig Overend
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
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I haven't seen any microbial fuel cells with high power outputs yet. The following better explains plant-e for nerds. It requires aquatic plants, hence a lot of water and in their case plastic to hold it. It would be interesting to try if you had a pond and a bunch of carbon plate electrodes for a larger surface area.
One of the following videos in Italian shows a pot plant outputting 180mV and 10uA, which isn't much power.

The other MFC example below may be better and uses Soil + Microbes + Blood meal + Electrodes.

I also remember reading about a filamentous organism in river sediment that exchanged electrons between upper and lower layers. I can't remember if it or other aerobic organisms were photosynthesising in the upper layer providing the electrons for exchange, I can't find that article now...

Now it's been discovered that if you combine organisms you can also create anaerobic microbial photosynthesis, and if I understand that correctly, you may not need the plant and electricity could be harvested in tubes or bags like those used in algae production, while being fed waste water https://news.wsu.edu/2017/01/09/wsu-researchers-discover-unique-microbial-photosynthesis/






 
Jon Guah
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Wow! These are great responses.

John, thanks for bringing up earth-batteries and posting a link. So crucial. I welcome more links.

Craig, thanks for the videos, and thanks for pointing out that aquatic plants are necessary for the Plant-e system. I've known about them for more than a year now, but for some reason never bothered digging deeper. The benefits of sharing, I guess.
 
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