Israeli researchers extract electricity from seaweed

i24NEWS

4 min read
An areal view of the beach in the Mediterranean coastal city of Ashkelon, Israel, on June 1, 2019.
Edi Israel/Flash90An areal view of the beach in the Mediterranean coastal city of Ashkelon, Israel, on June 1, 2019.

'I believe that our idea can lead to a real revolution in clean energy,' Ph.D. student Yaniv Shloshberg said

Researchers in Israel devised a new method to extract electrical current from seaweed without harming the environment.

Yaniv Shlosberg, a Ph.D. student, hatched the concept while swimming in the Meditteranean Sea. 

It was later developed by a group of researchers from three Technion-Israel Institute of Technology faculties, along with a researcher from the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Insitute (IOLR), The Jerusalem Post (The Post) reported.

The method was published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.

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According to Technion, the basic idea was to use living organisms as the source of electrical current in microbial fuel cells, as certain bacteria can transfer electrons to electrochemical cells that can then produce electrical current. 

On the Mediterranean coast, many different varieties of seaweed grow naturally, such as Ulva or ‘sea lettuce,' which is grown in huge quantities at IOLR for research.

By developing new methods to connect with the Ulva, the researchers created currents close to the level of those obtained from standard solar cells, according to The Post.

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According to the researchers, this was due to the high rate of photosynthesis in seaweed and the ability to use the seaweed in its natural habitat. 

The seaweed is also able to provide currents in the dark generated by respiration - using sugars made by photosynthesis as an internal nutrient source - that are about half as strong as those obtained in the light, without using any extra substances.

“I believe that our idea can lead to a real revolution in clean energy production,” Yaniv Shlosberg said, The Post reported.

Using the method, the Technion and IOLR researchers built a prototype device that collects electric current directly in the Ulva growth vat.