Students develop plant powered battery

A group of US students has potentially found a way of charging mobile phones and other such devices using rotting plants.

The microbial fuel cell (MFC), designed and built by MIT students, is powered by the electrons released by bacteria feeding on cellulose in decaying plant matter, so that as the plant rots electricity is produced.

The battery is hardly the first of its kind, but differs from previous efforts in its use of a non-platinum catalyst that keeps the cost down.

What that catalyst is, the team will not say, as they are currently applying for a patent, however they believe their alternative could keep the cost of the battery down to around $2 in certain parts of the world.

Currently it would take one cell about six months to charge a mobile phone, however, the team says that by connecting cells together and refining the design, power output could be increased by as much as 100 times.

The students believe the technology could be particularly useful in rural areas of developing countries where power is at a premium but cellulose-rich plant matter is prevalent.

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