Bio power plants

Oliver Knill, Back to my Random and Silly page

In January/February, 2013, the New Scientist collected ideas about energy in the future. The task was to submit an idea in 100 or less words. Here was my entry of February 1:

Biotechnology will allow us to grow plants which generate energy. Trees or algae will gather sun energy and turn it into electricity because plant cells will have solar cell capabilities. Plants will harvest energy. Components to build houses or streets contain solar cells by default. Cars will get energy directly from the street, houses energy from forests or seas nearby. Communication advances will require less travel. Materials and appliances will be more energy friendly. Batteries will be much better. Personalized local production with 3D printers will require less transportation. Manufacturing in decentralized factories will lead to outlets where used.

Update: Over 3000 entries have been submitted. Here is an illustration to the idea to grow trees which generate electricity. The trees are biogenetically engineered so that they become solar cells. This requires to change the cell fundamentally so that cells can conduct electricity better and so that there are positive and negative artery like wire networks which run throughout the plant. Finding the right process could be done within a hundred years using evolutionary trial and error processes to bioengineer the cell. In an ideal case, one just would have to plug a forest to the power grid. The individual plants could connect themselves at their roots. As the collection of below show, the concept is not far fetched

And here is an illustration that materials for building streets could in the same time also be solar energy sources. Also this is not far fetched because many freeways already are used for solar cells. To have that in the asphalt, much progress in material has to be done since cells today are brittle. But also this could be doable in a few decades.

Source of tree picture

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