A Streetlamp Powered by … Algae?

“Algae Power” should be the next superhero slogan for humanity because it is green, clean, and now with a luminescent sheen! Pierre Calleja and his team at FermentAlg have created clever streetlamps powered by algae. But this is merely the beginning for these miracle micro-organisms, which can be used to create anything from fertilizer, feed-stock, to energetic bio-fuels. Here at The University of Texas at Austin, the Center for Electromechanics conducts a “multidisciplinary research program to extract bio-oils from algae to produce fuel and other high-value algae products”. The CEM has been a pioneer in this burgeoning field, helping to reshape the way societies think about extracting and using energy. It’s great to see these ideas are starting to gain traction!

TED Blog

tumblr_mtmtn86Wur1qedf7ko1_1280The glowing, neon green lamp you see above is the invention of French biochemist Pierre Calleja, who had the crazy idea of using algae to power otherworldly, tube-shaped streetlamps that double as homes for this growing gloop. In a talk at TEDxLausanneChange, he explains the process behind the invention.

You may remember photosynthesis from biology class — if not, Wikipedia will remind you: “Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy, normally from the sun, into chemical energy that can be used to fuel the organisms’ activities.” But can photosynthesis help us light our sidewalks and roadways? Calleja thinks so.

He and his team at FermentAlg developed this lamp to double as a habitat for microalgae, which absorb solar energy and consume carbon dioxide. These lamps are designed to store the energy made from this process, so that when placed in unlit places, they can continue to shine.

These beautiful lights…

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