Can plants generate electricity and light LED bulbs? Let's see what this does

04/08/2022
Scientists have reportedly developed a way to use living plants to generate electricity to light LED bulbs, providing a "green" solution to sustainable electricity production. This power-generating plant is made from natural and artificial leaves, and when the wind blows on the plant and moves the leaves, electricity is produced.

Interdisciplinary roboticists and biologists from the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia) in Pontedera, Pisa, Italy, have found that living plants can help generate electricity. And, the research results have been published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

A research team led by Fabian Meder found that living plants can generate more than 150 volts through a single leaf, enough to light up 100 LED bulbs simultaneously. The researchers also showed that a "hybrid tree" made of natural and artificial leaves could act as an innovative "green" generator, converting wind power into electricity.

It is reported that in the previous study, the team studied plants and found that leaves can generate electricity when touched by different substances or wind.

Most plant leaves naturally provide specific components, so certain leaf structures are able to convert mechanical forces applied to the leaf surface into electrical energy. Specifically, due to the process of contact electrification, the blades are able to concentrate electricity on their surfaces. This electricity is then immediately delivered to the internal tissues of the plant. Plant tissue acts like a "cable" and carries the electricity generated to the rest of the plant. So by simply attaching a "plug" to the plant stem, the electricity generated can be collected to power electronic devices.

In the paper, the researchers also describe for the first time how to use this effect to convert wind power into electricity. So the researchers modified an oleander tree to touch the natural oleander leaves with artificial leaves. "Hybrid trees" generate electricity when the wind blows against the plants and moves the leaves. The more electricity is generated, the more leaves are touched. In this way, it is easy to scale up by developing the entire surface of the leaves on a tree or even a forest.