A Spanish biotech company trying to generate renewable energy from the very soil on which our homes are built.
Described as the most disruptive startup in the world in 2016 by Google, Bioo creates biological batteries. That is, batteries that use soil microbes to generate electricity in a simple but ingenious way.
How do biological batteries work?
When the soil in which the biological battery is located is irrigated or receives rain, the nutrients and microbes in the soil that feed on decaying plant matter penetrate into it. There, their power activity creates protons and electrons. When combined with the oxygen flowing through the battery holes, the process generates enough electricity to power lights, screens or small appliances.
Bioo's goal is to improve its technology until their ground-powered units could generate power for an entire home. It may not be that difficult, also because the production does not require toxic minerals or rare earths like some photovoltaic solar panels do.
Research on biological batteries
Bioo is using potted plants in much of its research, because plants expel excess energy from their photosynthesis through the roots, which can be channeled to power small devices. Of course, currently the goal of powering a house is a little out of reach for the founder Pablo Vidarte. However, he has created several innovative ways to showcase his ideas and hopefully generate the data and capital needed to grow.
One of them is an installation in which the plants they are used as biological on / off switches. Upon receiving some radio frequency, Vidarte found that some potted plants can produce power and be used as living electrical switches, turn on lights, screens, music, and even extend wifi, for use in a home or commercial setting.
Another example provides this the company itself. All the external lighting of the Bioo headquarters on the Spanish island of Ibiza is powered by biological batteries.
Energy from soil microbes
Unlike solar panels that require batteries to store energy for use when the sun isn't shining, or wind turbines that stop moving without wind, soil microbes never sleep. They never stop generating energy. The flow of energy is constant, even in the middle of the night or on a windless day.
And the Bioo panels, with theirs renewable energy 100% (currently they can generate 3W per square meter), they do not interrupt the natural landscape. Many planners are eager to use them to power lights, especially in parks.