Indian-Origin Scientist from Concordia University Discovers New Green Power Source

Photo de M. Packirisamy pour Concordia (Alan Wong) à Montréal, juillet 2005

MONTREAL: Researchers led by an Indian-origin scientist and his team from Concordia University have developed a novel technology that harnesses electrical energy from blue-green algae that could be used to power cell phones and computers in future.

Both photosynthesis and respiration, which take place in plants cells, involve electron transfer chains.

“Both photosynthesis and respiration, which take place in plants cells, involve electron transfer chains. By trapping the electrons released by blue-green algae during photosynthesis and respiration, we can harness the electrical energy they produce naturally,” said engineering professor Muthukumaran Packirisamy who did his MS in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

Also known as cyanobacteria, blue-green algae are the most prosperous microorganisms on earth.

“By taking advantage of a process that is constantly occurring all over the world, we have created a new and scalable technology that could lead to cheaper ways of generating carbon-free energy,” said Mr Packirisamy who is member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

The invention, however, is still in its early stages.

“We have a lot of work to do in terms of scaling the power cell to make the project commercial,” he said.

Currently, the photosynthetic power cell exists on a small scale and consists of an anode, cathode and proton exchange membrane.

The cyanobacteria or blue green algae are placed in the anode chamber.

As they undergo photosynthesis, the cyanobacteria release electrons to the electrode surface.

An external load is connected to the device to extract the electrons and harness power.

Mr Packirisamy hopes that the micro-photosynthetic power cells will soon be used in various applications, such as powering cell phones and computers.

“And maybe one day, they will power the world,” he added in a paper published in the journal Technology.

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