Biophotovoltaic table harvests electricity from moss

In keeping with the old proverb that rolling stones gather no moss, this stationary table not only gathers plenty of moss, but gathers plenty of electricity as well, hacking into the photosynthesizing plants to harvest enough power to keep small devices like clocks charged up and happy.

This Moss Table (which is called "The Moss Table") is a demonstration of biophotovoltaic technology. Inside the table are lots of little pots of regular old moss, growing in soil that contains a friendly sort of bacteria. As the moss photosynthesizes, it releases organic compounds as waste, and the bacteria break these compounds down, releasing electrons as they do. Conductive wires running under the moss pots snap up all of these electrons to generate a an electric current of between five and ten microamps at about half a volt, all of which goes straight into a battery for you to do something exciting with (but does not, in fact, power the lamp on the table).

Putting 112 moss pots together will collectively generate a bit over 500 joules of energy over the course of a day, which is about enough to power your laptop for a solid 20 seconds. The fact is, the moss maxes out at just 50 milliwatts per square meter, and that's not that much. Fancier plants and fancier technology could theoretically boost this to a far more useful three watt per square meter, which could probably keep an efficient lamp on all night or even potentially power a very efficient computer for long enough to be useful.

This version of The Moss Table isn't for sale, but the people behind it are hoping to offer other products powered by moss. Like, clocks. Personally, I'm going to hold out for a moss-powered table lamp, and maybe a moss-powered dehumidifier, so that I won't have to worry about keeping my moss alive to provide power to the stuff that keeps my moss alive. Brilliant, right?

Biophotovoltaics, via Inhabitat

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