As an electricity source, what could be greener than plants? That’s the idea behind this rig, the world’s first system that powers an FM radio using nothing more than the photosynthetic powers of moss. And creators Fabienne Felder and Dr Paolo Bombelli are just getting started.
This isn’t the first time people have used moss as a mini-powerplant; in 2012, the folks behind Biophotovoltaics made this moss-filled lamp table, although the moss itself only provided enough juice to run a small LCD clock.
To be fair, Felder and Bombelli’s rig only provides enough juice to play the FM for a little under a minute and a half. And the moss isn’t directly powering the radio, instead trickle-charging a battery that stores the juice.
But Felder’s got bigger plans. As she told Wired, “On a small scale I think we could soon-ish convert people’s normal houseplants into little power-generators for charging phones.” In the long view, Felder suggests aeroplane interiors covered in moss that purifies the air and powers seat-back TV screens simultaneously.
Theoretically, it’s possible. The current moss-radio setup only captures 0.1 per cent of the electrons the moss processes, meaning there’s huge room for gains. And experiment are ongoing to find the best variety of moss for the job. Probably better than listening to mushrooms .
The University of Cambridge, where Dr Bombelli does biochemistry research, is working on a moss-electric kit educational kit for kids. Think of it as a new, green update to the old potato-powered lightbulb. [Mosspower via Wired]