Dutch designer Ermi van Oers, in collaboration with Plant-e, has designed a lamp which makes use of a living plant to generate its own electricity: Living Light. It harvests its energy through the photosynthetic process of a plant by using ‘plant microbial fuel cell technology’, a technology developed by Plant-e.
In a plant microbial fuel cell, solar energy is converted to electricity. Through photosynthesis plants produce organic matter. Part of this matter is passively released through the roots into the soil. Naturally occurring bacteria in the soil break down the organic matter and release electrons in the process.
The technology includes an anode compartment that captures the electrons. The electrons are transferred through a wire to the cathode. The flow of electrons from anode to cathode can be used as electricity.It is safe for both the plant and the environment. The system is applicable to all sorts of plants that grow on wet grounds. The larger the surface in which this technology is embedded the more energy this technology can produce.
Designer Ermi van Oers became interested in biotechnology while studying Product Design at Willem de Kooning Academy (WdKA) in Rotterdam, fascinated by the way nature works with a circular nutritional system: “Climate change and the increasing scarcity of raw materials lead to an urgent need for finding alternative systems that will redefine our relation to nature.”