Some kids in Peru are now doing their homework with an exciting new light powered by plants! The Plantalámpara, which means “lamp that runs on plant power” gets its energy from a living plant. The plant grows in a wooden box, where it can power an LED lamp.
The Plantalámpara was created by teachers and students at the Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC) in Lima, Peru. The students built the plant light for the people who live in a village named Nuevo Saposoa, a remote (far from other cities) village in Peru. The village only has a few power lines.So when a flood damaged those lines, the students and teachers decided to find another way for the villagers to have light.
The plant lamp gets its power from the waste products created by the plant during photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, the plant makes energy from sunlight. During this energy-making process, the plant also creates waste products that go into the soil. Tiny microorganisms (animals you can only see with a microscope) in the soil will cause the waste to break down and decompose. And when the waste decomposes, it will oxidize and create electrons. These electrons are the most important part of the whole thing, because they are used to power the lamp.
To collect the electrons, the team placed electrodes into the soil of the plant. These electrodes are able to gather the electrons and store them in a battery to be used later. By harnessing the power of the electrons, the plant lamp is able to power LED bulbs as bright as a normal 50-watt bulb for two hours—which is plenty of light to read and work by.
Ten of the lamps have already been given to people living in the village, and everyone was very happy to have them. Before getting the plant lamps, the people had to use kerosene lamps, which are smoky and can even be dangerous. Now with the plant lamps, people with no electricity have a new way to light up the night.