Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory develops new energy system using virusesMay 16, 2012
All of the above energy plan may unlock new forms of energy generation
Researchers from the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in the U.S. have found a new way to use biology to generate electricity. The U.S. has recently adopted an “all of the above” energy plan. The plan has been the subject of criticism due to its blanket approach to supporting alternative energy with no particular focus. This plan does, however, open up new avenues for researchers to pursue ambitious energy projects. Researchers from the Berkley Lab believe that their new method of generating electricity could be a glimpse of the future in terms of energy.
Electricity generated through the movement of viruses
Scientists at the lab have successfully generated electricity by using non-human viruses. These viruses generated electricity through their movements. This kinetic energy was enough to power a small liquid-crystal display. Researchers were able to spur the viruses to action by touching a small electrode. Researchers claim that this is the first energy generator that is capable of producing electricity using the piezoelectric properties of a biological organism.
Devices using this system could be charged by touch
This type of electricity generation can be used to power various types of electronic devices, such as smart phones, music players and navigation systems. Using this method, these devices could be charged via contact with human skin. Researchers believe that viruses may, one day, lead to the development of personal energy generators or power supplies for nano-devices.
Viruses used are benign to humans
The viruses used in the energy system are not dangerous to humans. In the event of a malfunction or if the system were to sustain damage that would release the viruses, humans would not be susceptible to their effects. The viruses used are easily replicated, allowing researchers to produce a significant amount of them at low cost. Because of this, scientists at the Berkley Lab believe that a virus-based energy system could be a cost-effective alternative to fossil-fuels.