Fuel cells underneath the soils made up of interacting live plant roots and bacteria can generate green energy without negatively affecting other commodities and the environment in general as opposed to other green energy sources. A small scale Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell has already been tested to generate 0.4 Watts for every square meter of plant growth, and an expansion is getting its way to the marshlands.
Plant roots excrete up to about 70% of the unused organic material produced by the plant, and the bacteria around them break the organic material, releasing electrons, which are then absorbed by an external electrode to generate electricity. This Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell concept has been around for five years now since its discovery by the Environmental Technology Group at Wageningen University in Netherlands.
The current power output of the Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell is actually more than the output of fermenting biomass. The bio-fuel cell is also expected to increase to 3.2 W/m2 in the future that would capacitate a 100 m2 roof to supply a household’s typical electrical power demand.
The concept was also found to be economically viable and socially acceptable as it does not require additional energy input, does not compete with agricultural lands, nor does it cause any pollution or harm to other living things. Moreover, various types of plants can be used such as the grasses.
The researchers see the feasibility of green-energy producing roofs and large scale production in marshlands within a few years time.