Biogenic Solar Cell to Generate Electricity under Overcast Skies

A team of researchers from University of British Columbia has found a low-cost way and viable way to develop a solar cell using bacteria called as Biogenic Solar Cell that is able to convert light energy to electrical energy, reported by a journal called Small.

The researchers’ team found a solution to leave the dye in the bacteria. Previously in order to make a biogenic solar cell, the natural dye which is used for photosynthesis were extracted thus making the process complex and costly that includes toxic solvents. The UBC researchers’ team genetically engineered E.coli to generate large amounts of lycopene, a dye which is the reason behind the orange-red color of tomatoes and has a potential to convert light to energy. In order to test the theory, the researchers applied the mixture made up of the bacteria coating with a mineral which acts as a semiconductor, on a glass surface.

The coated glass generated current density of 0.686 milliamps per square centimeter, better than their competitors who generated a mere amount of 0.362.

According to Vikraamaditya, a professor in department of chemical and biological engineering in UBC said that this invention is a leaping step toward making economical solar energy. It is expected that biogenic solar cell could be adopted in places like few regions of northern Europe and. British Columbia where it tends to have overcasts skies, as these solar cell are efficient in dim light.

The cost involved in the dye production is said to be one-tenth of what it would be otherwise mentioned Yadav. He also stated that with the proper optimization of these solar cell, it could compete against conventional solar cells. Other applications of these biogenic materials are deep-sea exploration, mining, and could be used in environments having considerable low light.

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