Moss-Powered Electricity

Are mosses the new solar panels?

Designer Fabienne Felder is working with plant scientist Ross Dennis and biochemist Dr. Paolo Bombelli from the University of Cambridge to harness moss as a source of energy with a technology called “photo microbial fuel cells” (photo-MFCs). Their first successful endeavor into the technology resulted in Moss FM, the world’s first moss-powered radio. Using bioelectrochemical devices and the natural photosynthetic abilities of moss, the radio is powered by harnessed solar energy transformed into electrical currents in a type of biological solar panel. Although they powered the device for mere minutes, Felder is confident that this breakthrough will change the future of solar technology.

Theoretically, any plant could be used, but Felder believes moss is “beautiful and undervalued,” and its surplus electron production during photosynthesis makes it the most useful for harnessing energy. In addition, mosses serve as insulators, pollution reducers, and water purifiers. For now, the team is looking for more funding as they work to increase the efficiency of the technology and convert houseplants into phone-charging power generators. According to a Moss FM press release, if 25 percent of London’s residents (2.7 million people) charged their mobile phones using moss technology for two hours every other day, it would save 42.5 million kilowatt hours, $12 million dollars, and 40 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Photo by Fabienne Felder.

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