Photo Microbial Fuel Cell




Site specific Installation
2020 Photo Microbial Fuel Cell



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In the following image we have a photograph of the first prototype of our “Photo Microbial Fuel Cell” initiated in August 2020 as part of an artístic residency focused on “Non-human intelligences” at the Centre for Creative Solutions in Lovinac, Croatia.

The investigation began with the challenge of developing a permanent, sustainable interactive installation, without a stable source of electricity, nor access to the internet. These circumstances are what led us to reflect upon our own relationship towards the online environment and the importance it has in the development of our projects.

Finding ourselves without access to the “opensource” “maker” and “creative coding” communities, unravelled our concept. By associating this interconnection with the functioning network nature creates with its own environment, through a beneficial system of sharing resources and communicating, the investigation opened up new hypotheses.

The appropriation of electricity on behalf of nature as a means to enhance its network was an initial speculation, evolving our research towards the exploration of the relationship between nature and electricity, and finalizing in the investigation of the use of photosynthesis as a source of electrical energy.

Technical

Plants, algae and cyanobacteria, known as photoautotrophs, are the only organisms capable of realizing photosynthesis, a process in which they are able to synthesize their own nutrients through the generation of carbohydrates and oxygen from carbon dioxide, water and light energy.

These carbohydrate molecules contain covalent bonds that store energy. Part of this organic matter is utilized for the plant's growth, whilst 70% is discarded in the rhizosphere layer of the soil. Here, active microorganisms surround the plant's roots and break down these bonds as part of their own metabolism, liberating electrons in the process.

By capturing these electrons, we create a photo microbial fuel cell (P-MFC), a device that converts light into electrical energy.By closing the circuit using electrode extensions we create a path allowing the current to flow into a LED diode, creating a self sufficient, living source of electricity.

In the creation of our first prototype, we interconnected 5 plants in series, obtaining a voltage of 2,9 at noon, the hour of máximum UV radiation. Although we obtained enough voltage to light up a LED diode, results weren´t achieved for there was not enough amperage to do so.

Our second prototype was designed using just one plant device, and then connected to a Joules thief, to transform our circuit from direct current to an alternating current. This allowed us to light up a red LED diode by increasing our initial voltage of 0,75 to a final voltage of 3,7.

Now more than ever is fundamental that we acknowledge how deeply interconnected we are with the space we inhabit, understanding that we are not separated entities, but part of the same ecosystem.

By defining new relationships with our environment we have the chance to envision new possible futures, where humans coexist with nonhuman entities, creating a new socio-cultural framework that challenges our perception of reality itself.By using the natural world to create a narrative and appropriating the use of technology as a tool to requestion our future we are able to integrate nature to the digital age. 




Mark