Wonders of algae

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

astronauts can now do away with oxygen cylinders. Scientists at the agency of industrial science and technology's National Institute for Resources and Environment have developed a battery that generates not only electricity but also oxygen. And the thing that makes it possible is common algae. During photosynthesis, like other plants algae releases oxygen. When the electrons that are passed around inside a plant cell during photosynthesis are directed outside to an electrode, you have a 'microbial battery'.

The prototype battery consists of a small culture tank filled with water, algae and an electron-transfer molecule that transports electrons from algae cells to one electrode. The battery also generates electrical energy in the dark as well as in the light. This special ability comes with a species of algae that not only photosynthesises, but also derives energy from sugar in its environment when there is no sunlight for photosynthesis. With the aid of 40 millilitres of water, 50 milligram of algae and 80 milligram of electron-transfer molecules, the battery produces 0.3 milliwatt of power in the presence of sunlight.

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