Scientists have worked out that there is enough electricity in a tree to power an electronic circuit. The discovery could pave the way for a house’s computers to be powered by the tree that is planted in the back garden.
According to MNN, engineers Babak Parviz and Brian Otis of the University of Washington have even developed a device that will enable a circuit to be plugged into a plant.
The development could solve problem of how to charge high-tech portable gadgets, iPods and cell phones.
The research was based upon a study last year, when scientists found that plants generate a voltage of up to 200 millivolts when one electrode is placed in a plant and the other in the ground.
The technology was designed to act as forest sensors powered entirely by this new method. But until now, no one has applied these findings to the development of tree power.
UW undergraduate student Carlton Himes spent his summer wandering around the woods surrounding campus, hooking nails to bigleaf maple trees and connecting them to his voltmeter. He found that the trees registered a steady voltage of up to a few hundred millivolts.
Because the tree’s voltage was too small they had to build converter that could be specialised to take input voltages of as little as 20 millivolts so that they could be stored to produce greater output. The device’s produced output voltage ended up being 1.1 volts, which is enough to run low-power sensors. It is still a long way off getting a pine powered PC but it is a start.
Mind you there is enough power in a human being to power a PC, even if you can’t stick a wire through a person without it hurting.