The microcomputer they made only works with ‘algae’ | flag | technology | Science

The microcomputer they made only works with ‘algae’ |  flag |  technology |  Science

Find new ways to get value electricity It was so important Scientists They have been working for many years. Finding an alternative, clean and cheap way to supply electricity is an outstanding task.

Solar energy was a great alternative, especially in places where at certain times of the year there is sunlight for several other hours of the day, such as the Iberian countries, for example. However, batteries should be used in winter seasons or cloudy times.

Given this scenario, it appears that scientists from the University of Cambridge have found a way to perform both tasks in one way and the key lies in the “algae” and the valuable process of photosynthesis, with which they have been able to power a small computer for six months.

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These ‘algae’ are not actually these marine plants that we know, but are cyanobacteria, which are prokaryotic organisms capable of photosynthesis, for which the term ‘algae’ is a thing, although it does not correspond to the scientific fact, It used to be that we called them this way, like “blue-green algae”.

According to a post Energy and Environmental Sciences, it was possible to take advantage of the photosynthesis of these cyanobacteria to obtain electricity. How was this achieved?

The meaning is easy to explain, which is that electricity is really a stream made up of electrons, and during photosynthesis, sunlight activates the electron transport chain that photosynthetic organisms use for energy. Can we take advantage of it?

Photosynthesis as a clean alternative

Scientists’ goal is to obtain new forms of energy to power the so-called “Internet of Things”, which we usually use to monitor social networks or send and receive messages, as well as the Internet that allows other objects to be connected, such as home appliances, for example.

They can be found in places so remote that the power supply simply does not reach. For this reason, scientists considered that they could obtain electricity with the help of photovoltaic cells that take advantage of sunlight, but the problem was the question of the need for batteries, which assumes an increase in mass, as well as use. of toxic substances.

Thus, they chose methods based on nature, which also use sunlight, but without the need for the traditional batteries that we have invented so far, something that inevitably directs them to the process of photosynthesis: a natural mechanism that allows energy to be obtained.

However, using a tree or a shrub was very inefficient, they needed something small, easy to grow and, above all, quick to obtain en masse, this is how cyanobacteria were thought, specifically of the genus synchronouswhich are “blue and green” freshwater algae, found in many places on our planet.

At the time of photosynthesis, photons arriving from the sun excite a pigment in one of the cellular parts called chloroplasts, which causes loss of electrons that travel through a transport chain made up of other molecules that capture and lose electrons, causing a small current to form.

P. Bombelli

biological batteries

This process is very similar to what happens to a battery, where a material called the positive electrode oxidizes and loses electrons, which move to the other side, called the cathode. In this case, the two mechanisms are mixed, since his invention contained an anode, a filament made of aluminum, which is easier to recycle than other materials used to make batteries, according to the Hipertextual Portal.

The result was a photovoltaic cell capable of producing four microwatts per square centimeter. However, the best thing is that even when these cyanobacteria were left in the dark, they made use of their food reserves and continued to produce electricity, somewhat weaker, but they did after all.

This was still enough to keep the microprocessor running and using only ambient light for the lab, and he was able to run it for six months. This is not the first work with this biological organism, however, this is the first time a microprocessor has been operated, even considering the time it has been.

Although it is new research, it is in a very preliminary stage of what it could mean, scientists are very optimistic after the discovery, something that could end up in a clean way to get electricity.

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