Researchers in Italy have managed to turn living plants into “green” power sources.
Wind blows leaves on trees. So what? you may say. Happens every day. But what if wind blowing on leaves could be harnessed for generating “green” electricity? That certainly doesn’t happen every day.
But soon it might.
Researchers in Italy have managed to turn living plants into “green” power sources with a single leaf of them generating more than 150 Volts, or enough electricity to power 100 LED light bulbs.
An interdisciplinary team of roboticists and biologists at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Pisa has developed an hybrid Nerium oleander tree with natural and artificial leaves that, together, can act as an innovative “green” electrical generator by converting wind into electricity.
In a newly published study the research team demonstrate that certain leaf structures can convert mechanical forces from a leaf’s surface into electrical energy. Specifically, when a leaf is moved by wind it gathers electric charges on its surface because of a process called contact electrification.
These charges are then instantly transmitted into the inner plant tissue, which acts much like an electrical cable by transporting electricity generated by movement to other parts of the plant.
“Hence, by simply connecting a ‘plug’ to the plant stem, the electricity generated can be harvested and used to power electronic devices,” the researchers explain. “[V]oltage generated by a single leaf may reach to more than 150 Volts, enough to simultaneously power 100 LED light bulbs each time the leaf is touched.”
Better yet: with more and more leaves blown by winds thus harnessed for electricity, entire trees could soon be turned into electricity generators.