From SOTT:

© UTEC

     Researchers in Peru have a new way to capture electricity from plants and bacteria to help rainforest communities.

Researchers at the Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC) have developed a technique for capturing the electricity emitted from plants. Actually, to be fair, it’s Geobacter— a genus of bacteria that live in the soil — that do the grunt work. Robby Berman at Slate explains the process:

“[N]utrients in plants encounter microorganisms called ‘geobacters‘ in the dirt, and that process releases electrons that electrodes in the dirt can capture. A grid of these electrodes can transfer the electrons into a standard battery.”

UTEC has partnered with global ad agency FCB to produce 10 prototypes and distribute them to houses in the rainforest village of Nuevo Saposoa. Each contains an electrode grid buried in dirt, in which a single plant grows. The grid connects to a battery, which powers a large LED lamp attached to an adjustable arm on the outside of the box. The UTEC video below shows the boxes in action (including a money shot of a lamp being triumphantly turned on):

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For Nuevo Saposoa and other underserved communities, this is more than just a crackerjack bit of biological engineering. Electricity, and lighting in particular, are a very real need. Berman writes:

“In the rainforest villages of Nuevo Saposoa and Pucallpa in Perù, there’s an existing electrical grid, but since a flood last March damaged its cables, it hasn’t been working.…

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