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Green Electricity from plants’ photosynthesis

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - BIOO Panel (Green Electricity from plants’ photosynthesis)

Reporting period: 2020-06-01 to 2020-12-31

Effects that scientists had predicted in the past would result from global climate change are nowadays a visible reality: significant temperature increase, changes in precipitation patterns, etc. In the last 150 years, atmospheric CO2 concentration have raised from 280 to 405 parts per million (ppm).

Renewable energy technologies have been introduced into the market during the last century to battle such energy-related emissions from fossil fuels and nowadays, renewable energy power plants currently account for more than 23% of total global electricity generation. Arkyne Technologies wants to join and participate in this green movement. To do so, our product Bioo Panel is an alternative energy source through bio-electrochemical batteries: exploiting Plant-Microbial Fuel Cells we aim to generate electricity by means of electrochemically active bacteria which consume organic matter present naturally in soil and produced by plants during their life cycle. The use of Bioo Panel for electrical energy generation has 3 main benefits. First one, it is 100% green energy, since the fuel comes from CO2 fixed by the plants and organic matter present in the soil. Second, the surface where the device is placed it is profitable, for example it can be a green roof or a garden. Finally, this product creates social and environmental awareness by promoting the use of plants.

The Bioo Panel project aims to develop a product that can be easily installed in a large variety of places, with a comfortable user experience and an affordable price. The satisfactory market penetration will also bring the social and environmental awareness as a benefit and implicit consequence.
During the first period of Bioo Panel project most of the tasks carried out were dedicated to product development, dissemination, and research activities. Electrogenic bacteria were selected and tested in lab to future implementation in the Bioo panel product, the cells’ configuration and design was developed to meet the plant and MFC requirements, and the first prototypes were tested in field.
During the second period of Bioo Panel project the tasks were focused on P-MFC optimization, mechanical and electric integration designs, and scale-up and manufacturing process. Different plant species were selected to future studies of the bacterial community evolution, filtering system and electrode optimized, and a new simplified Bioo panel prototype was constructed to adequate all the previous optimizations, reduce the costs, and facilitate underground installation.
During this third period of Bioo Panel project the tasks were focused on implementation, field testing, and final analyses and publications:
Electrical layout proved non-viable to interconnect directly to the grid, and other alternative applications were proposed like low power harvesting applied technologies. Interconnection studies were held verifying that parallel connection performed better than in series.
Manufacturers were selected after best value for money, time efficiency and reduction of environmental impacts analyses following specific criteria detailed in part B. In-house tests were carried on, constructing 4 Bioo Panels inside Bioo’s facilities that were subjected to theoretical optimal environmental conditions; during the test, several issues were observed and corrected accordingly.
A Deployment was completed successfully at the Ibiza’s Biotechnological Botanical Garden; 5 Bioo Panels were installed in the facilities, connected to the garden’s watering system, to a wireless connection and mini-PC for remote analysis purposes, and to a waterproof screen continuously depicting graphics of the electrical output for technology demonstration and dissemination purposes. The deployment was remotely monitored and verified that all the bacterial community and electronic components were functioning properly.
The performance of the previously selected plant species for the optimization of the bacterial community electrical production was studied in real conditions; these plant species were Canna indica, Phragmites australis, and Sporobolus indicus. The results shown that the plants did increase the microbial growth, but that there were no major differences between the three selected plant species in terms of electrical performance of the bacterial community inside the Bioo Panel. Life Cycle Analysis was carried out by a subcontracted specialized company, whose detailed results were presented in D5.2; it was highlighted that the lifespan of the product is a key aspect. Technical assessment included some adjustments of the MFC compartments and watering system, oxidations processes were observed and noted for future improvements and biological optimizations were proposed as the addition of other carbon sources to promote anaerobic bacterial growth. Regarding the economic feasibility,
Pre-certification study concluded that the Bioo Panel electricity generation is uncapable to reach any short circuit risk for the user, therefore a pre-certification process would not even be considered by official sources. In terms of IPR, Arkyne worked with a subcontracted law company to send a European Patent, EP20382828, and Bioo’s brand and logo trademark is registered since 2017 with the international trademark nº 1357959; both were attached in D7.2. Scientific publications through the development of an article with Bioo’s results were submitted.
The financial potential impact of the project has maintained its course, including an impact of up to 10M€ in three years from the completion of the project to 100M€ in 6 years. However, changes have been made regarding the first focus and target of the product by 2 different phases, now aiming for a potential market focused on the application of the Bioo Panel in green areas for self-irrigation systems (Phase 1) and, in a second stage, lightning points in parks and gardens (Phase 2). Phase 2 will count with a second version of the panel after the SME. After an analysis with potential partners and distributors, we found that self-irrigation is a growing sector that represents a leading target in terms of market need. This sector has counted with very little innovations internationally and represents a first goal where competitors will play the role of strategic partners instead of blocking our market approach. Our Phase 2 goal, after a second version of the Bioo Panel, will be lightning points in parks and gardens, for which we will enhance and redirect the product to the energy sector. This progressive approach will increase the commercial possibilities of the product and intensify the brand capabilities and financial potential when entering competition against other self-sufficient sources of energy such as solar panels, by redirecting to the actual uncovered needs of green roofs and gardens, which are currently requiring great expenditures in wiring and water worldwide. This network of partners, an exhaustive inclusion and trials with clients, and the new 2-phase market approach has reinforced the commercial capabilities of the company and provided increased chances to lead with its main competitors in the energy sector by redirecting to the actual uncovered needs of green roofs and gardens with the most sustainable approach. Moreover, the project has successfully achieved the raising of 700K€ in shares from financial and industrial partners in the sector.
Bioo Panel installation
Bioo Panel detail