>> This is an electrical current being generated by algae. That is the pond scum you see floating on water. And it's part of a research project at the UK's Cambridge University that could bring a revolutionary new type of green fuel cell closer to reality. Biophotovoltaic devices are essentially living solar panels.
They use biological material such as algae to create electricity.>> We prove that we are able to generate about half watt per square meter of area. So keep this flask cover about 10 centimeter square means that from this area, probably we can generate about 0.5 milliwatt.>> That may not sound like very much, but it's five times more than any previous biophotovoltaic design.
And how they've done it is by manufacturing this state of the art piece of technology, a microfluidic device. It's like transistors in computer.>> A tiny device.>> Once, there were large devices like this. Now, microscopically small. And once chemists used to use glasses like these for their experiments, for this algae powered fuel cell, they need to contain fluids in microscopically small amounts.
The base of this device contains very, very small fluid channels and what they do is allow researches to harvest electrons produced during photosynthesis.>> So in the same way that electrons are moving from the negative to the positive and off the battery, electrons can be moved inside of a microchannel and use this electron movement to generate electricity, so to power possibly mobile phone, computer and so on.
>> At the moment, this technology only produces about a tenth of the power density provided by conventional solar fuel cells, but it has other advantages. Such as working in the dark and being cheaper and greener to produce, which could be useful in, for example, rural areas of some countries in Africa, wWhere mainstream power can either be too expensive or out of reach.
Researchers are hoping they can increase the power further, which could determine if taking this tech from the lab to the real world can get the green light.