Researchers develop new algae-powered fuel cell systemJanuary 12, 2018
New system is five times more efficient than other plant-based solutions
Researchers from Cambridge University have developed a new fuel cell that is powered by algae. According to the research team, the fuel cell is five times more efficient than similar plant-based systems that are currently in use. This particular fuel cell does not use hydrogen to generate electrical power, but it does leverage the energy provided by the sun. Algae-powered fuel cells are quickly becoming popular due to their efficiency and use of renewable energy.
New system uses algae to efficiently generate electrical power
The new fuel cell is designed to be biophotovoltaic. The fuel cell is equipped with a solar cell that takes advantage of biological mechanisms in order to collect sunlight and generate electrical power. The algae within the fuel cell system convert sunlight into electrons that are then funneled through the fuel cell. The system is separated into charging and power delivery components. This has allowed researchers to make the system more efficient by improving each component.
System is still less powerful than conventional solar cells
The research team was able to improve the system by first engineering more efficient algae. The algae being used by the fuel cell system dissipate less energy during the photosynthesis process. This has allowed the fuel cell to be five times more efficient than its counterparts, but the system is actually less powerful than actual solar cells. Compared to solar cells, however, the new system is somewhat less expensive. The technology could eventually be used in rural areas that are in need of electrical power.
Algae-based fuel cells are gaining popularity in the renewable energy field
Fuel cells typically make use of hydrogen to generate electricity, but newer forms of these energy systems are becoming more common. Algae-based fuel cells have shown some promise due to their focus on using photosynthesis to generate power. These types of fuel cells are typically more affordable because they do not require the expensive materials needed to develop conventional hydrogen-powered systems.