Saturday, January 2, 2010

Engineered plants as solar power generators? (Actually Solar Power Plants!)

This post is just a cool idea I came out with yesterday.

I was thinking about a solar photovoltaic array, in which panels are to keep oriented towards the sun to maximize the collected energy. I thought about possible sun following rotating designs, then I considered sunflowers that do exactly the same.

Many plants actually turn their leaves to the sun to maximize photosynthetic reactions.

So maybe it could be possible to develop some genetically engineered plant, that could be connected to electrical grid through a ground electrode in the roots and with an aerial "electrical vine" entwined to a metal wire that could also sustain the plant itself.

The underground electrode could be grown by the plant itself towards a specific substance that could attract electric roots.

Probably there are many plant species that could be used for this.

A simpler idea is to mount light photovoltaic panels on the leaves, without covering them all, and have the plant movement orient them properly (this would probably be very easy to develop). We need to find the more robust sun orienting plants.

Any botanical expert or crazy inventor that could comment on this?

Marco ( @mgua on twitter )


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