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Green Electricity from plants’ photosynthesis

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BIOO Panel (Green Electricity from plants’ photosynthesis)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2020-05-31

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, glaciers shrunk, accelerated sea level rise and more intense heat waves are already happening. In the last 150 years, atmospheric CO2 concentration have raised from 280 to 405 parts per million (ppm), and according to scientists, the cause is clear: all recent data confirms that the high consumption of fossil fuels that our modern civilization depends upon accounts for the majority of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions.
Renewable energy technologies have been introduced into the market during the last century in an attempt 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. 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 this 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.
P-MFC experiments started applying the bacteria consortium in a constructed cell adding different plants previously selected to study the bacterial community evolution. Cells’ characterization was carried out through power generation measurements and metagenomic analyses. Also, a lyophilizate of Shewanella pure culture was successfully obtained for inoculation purposes. However, these pure cultures were not successfully established on the electrode; to correct this, the biological material was changed to naturally available soil bacterial communities that were able to produce electricity in a sufficient amount to power up electronic devices such as LEDs, irrigation systems and sensors by means of a low-power electricity harvesting system that is currently being developed; although the energy generated is not enough to be connected to the grid, through the low-power harvesting system previously mentioned Bioo Panel offers a competitive solution for powering autonomous systems in the fields of self-irrigation, sensors for smart cities and, in a second phase, powering points of light in parks and gardens with a completely green contaminant-free energy, avoiding the costs of wiring or chemical batteries and re-using already maintained green areas.
The filtering system of the initial prototype proved too thin, not letting enough nutrients and bacteria to flow to the cells, so it was changed to meet the requirements of the bacteria and nutrient particles dimensions. Several tests were conducted to optimize the electrodes’ materials and configurations for the bio-electrochemical reactions that lead to electricity production while considering oxygen needs, achieving a maximum of 0.6 W/m3. The electrodes interconnections are still pending as the optimization of the electrodes must be completed prior to the start of this issue.
The Bioo Panel mechanical design was tested, and the following problems were found: an unmanageable size, the impossibility to put it underground, excess water discharge leakage and not optimal cells design. Thus, the BIOO Panel was redesigned to solve them and a third prototype was constructed. Some adjustments have been done by the manufacturer to finish with all the resistance tests.
A new simplified Bioo Panel design is being considered as a functional alternative that will reduce the cost and components while maintaining the power generation.
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 were 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 into 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 prototype
Bioo Panel