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Generating Energy from Electroactive Algae

Objective

The aim of this grant is to establish a world leading research centre focusing on developing a radically different way to generate clean energy from algae. GREEN will deliver a self-sustainable bioenergy generator, with an output power of the order of W/m2 that is at least 100 times larger than current state-of-art bioenergy generators. The unprecedented enhancement in output power finally breaks the power scalability barrier for bioenergy generators and in this way delivers impact on the world’s renewable energy research trajectory.

I have recently discovered that a population of diatoms, a form of algae, communicate in a cooperative manner and produce long lasting large magnitude electrical oscillations. The discovery has been made possible through my recent breakthrough - I have developed a large area and low impedance transducer to record cooperative communication in cells.

My idea is to harvest the generated electricity from the algae. Using 2D electrodes, the output power is µW/m2, which is low. However, the power increases with the density of diatoms adhered to the electrode and with the electrical coupling of the cells to the electrode. By going from a 2D to porous 3D electrodes, and by optimizing the coupling an output power of W/m2 is within my reach.

To deliver the new bioenergy generator, it is essential to understand 1) which materials and 3D electrode geometries comprise larger cell densities and enable a more efficient charge transfer from the living organisms to the electrode 2) which organisms provide the higher output powers, and 3) how the electric circuitry will be developed to store and deliver the generated power.

This multidisciplinary research will advance the state-of-the-art by delivering a prototype for a new green self-sustained energy harvester, suitable for power scalability, through realising technological advances in 1) electrochemical electrodes, 2) cooperative signalling mechanisms in algae and 3) energy harvesting circuits.

Field of science

  • /engineering and technology/environmental engineering/energy and fuels/renewable energy
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/microbiology/phycology

Call for proposal

ERC-2020-STG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-STG - Starting Grant

Host institution

UNIVERSIDADE DE COIMBRA
Address
Paco Das Escolas
3001 451 Coimbra
Portugal
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 2 267 667

Beneficiaries (1)

UNIVERSIDADE DE COIMBRA
Portugal
EU contribution
€ 2 267 667
Address
Paco Das Escolas
3001 451 Coimbra
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments