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Scientists Create Skyscrapers For Blue-Green Algae To Increase Their Bioenergy Output

Apr, 2022

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The new 3D printed skyscraper of electrodes with similar behavior of a set of small skyscrapers boosts the bioenergy produced by photosynthetic bacteria

Efficiency of photosynthetic bacteria that turn carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight into energy is studied by scientists for a long time, now a team of researchers at University of Cambridge developed grids of high-rise nano-housing using 3D printing, for bacteria to grow rapidly, and using which the team extracted the waste electrons of bacteria left over from photosynthesis, that can be further used for powering small electronic devices. The new 3D printed skyscraper of electrodes with similar behavior of a set of small skyscrapers boosts the bioenergy produced by photosynthetic bacteria.

In this new study, the team used 3D printing for creating electrodes made from metal oxide nanoparticles to which the cyanobacteria commonly known as blue-green algae can attach, in order for the scientists to gather the energy it produces. Then the team arranged these electrodes in densely packed sets of pillars. These pillar sets acted as host to the cyanobacteria, which then generated electricity with greater efficiency by performing photosythesis. This system, boosted the amount of energy that could be harvested from cyanobacteria by over an order of magnitude. Cyanobacteria are multipurpose chemical producers, and this approach allowed the team to tap into their energy conversion pathway at a beginning stage, which provides knowledge about how they perform energy conversion.

Furthermore, the printing technique of this approach is adaptable for producing structures of different scales and heights. Which means that these small sets of pillars can be modified so they suit various applications. Thus, this research demonstrated not only how this form of photosynthesis is better for capturing energy, it also offered new possibilities around the design of electrodes.

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