From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Microbial fuel cells
Mains level : Microbial fuel cells and its applications
- The London Zoo has used plants to power camera traps and sensors in the wild. This they achieved by installing microbial fuel cells in Pete, a fern.
Microbial fuel cells
- They are devices that use bacteria as the catalysts to oxidize organic and inorganic matter and generate current.
- Electrons produced by the bacteria are transferred to the negative terminal and flow to the positive terminal.
- Plants naturally deposit biomaterial as they grow which in turn feeds the natural bacteria present in the soil.
- This creates energy that can be harnessed by fuel cells and used to power a wide range of vital conservation tools remotely, including sensors, monitoring platforms and camera traps.
Benefits over other power sources
- Among conventional power sources, batteries must be replaced while solar panels rely on a source of sunlight.
- On the other hand, plants can survive in the shade, naturally moving into position to maximise the potential of absorbing sunlight.