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Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham Scientists Pioneer Living Algae-Powered Solar Cell Technology

April 15, 2024 - 3:37
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham Scientists Pioneer Living Algae-Powered Solar Cell Technology

In a groundbreaking development, researchers from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore, have revolutionized the renewable energy landscape by harnessing the power of living algae to generate electricity. The team’s innovative bio-photovoltaic device, detailed in their research paper  Sustainable power generation from live freshwater photosynthetic filamentous macroalgae Pithophora published in the esteemed Journal of Science: Advanced Materials and Devices, marks a significant stride towards sustainable energy solutions.

Traditionally confined to aquatic habitats, freshwater filamentous macroalgae known as pithophora have emerged as the star of this eco-friendly endeavour. The research team ingeniously sandwiched algae between specially modified electrodes. The top electrode was carbon-coated copper. The bottom electrode was titanium oxide-coated fluorine-doped tin oxide.

Under UV light exposure, the device, merely 1 cm² in area, exhibited a photocurrent of 1.25 mA and a photovoltage of 0.5 V, showcasing its potential to harness solar energy. Moreover, the device demonstrated its versatility by functioning under ambient conditions, even delivering 5.53 V when ten devices were connected in series, under 0.6 sun intensity.

Lead researcher Sudip Kumar Batabyal (Chairperson and Professor, Department of Physics, School of Physical Sciences, Coimbatore) emphasized the technology’s sustainable edge, highlighting its utilization of renewable resources and avoidance of expensive or toxic materials. Despite its promising prospects, challenges such as low efficiency and scalability remain, primarily attributed to the liquid reservoir component.

This breakthrough comes amidst a wave of innovation in the field of bio-based energy solutions. In recent developments, South Korean researchers merged green algae with carbon nanofibers, while scientists from Spain’s University of Cordoba explored bacterial communities for hydrogen production through microbial metabolism.

As the global quest for clean energy intensifies, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s pioneering work underscores the potential of biological photovoltaic technology to reshape the future of solar power generation. With continued research and innovation, algae-powered solar cells could emerge as a leading contender in the pursuit of sustainable energy solutions, heralding a greener and brighter tomorrow.

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