Plant-Microbial Fuel Cells to power remote field sensors

 Sketch of potential use within project

Sketch of potential use within project

We would like to apply to the OpenPlant Fund to organise and run a competition where teams of plant biologists, designers and electrical engineers would be invited to design and test robust, transportable prototypes of plant-MFC for delivering a low-cost, environmentally friendly power supply to sensors operating in remote field locations. The project operates on a simple three steps logic: 1) the plant microbial fuel cell (Plant-MFC) charges a capacitor; 2) the trap camera takes a photo; 3) the photo is transmitted. The aim is that these prototypes contribute to the development of solutions that solve battery maintenance challenges associated with deployments of conservation technology, releasing conservationists from this time-bind and ultimately allowing us to better monitor and assess the status of our natural resources worldwide.

Plant-MFCs can be described as biological solar panels. In this case, the photosynthetic plants are used for feeding heterotrophic soil bacteria living in the rhizosphere of the plant. Then those bacteria produce electrons that can be collected by an anode. Current research in plant-MFC exploits several different vascular plants including both rice and moss.

If you are interested in finding out more about this project, please contact colette.matthewman@jic.ac.uk.