Modular Moss Wall Generates Electricity

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A project came out of the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia that I think you’ll like. The team there is working on using the byproducts of photosynthesis to generate electricity in what’s becoming known as “biophotovoltaics.”

moss

The moss is grown on a bed of conductive materials, a water retaining substrate, and a biological growth medium where a bacterial interaction is able to generate free electrons and run them through a battery like system (think anodes and cathodes, or the positive and negative ends of a battery) to generate electricity.

moss modules

Check out the video here:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/119702162″>Moss Voltaics</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/elenamitro”>Elena Mitro</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

This project reminded me of another I’d seen where designers ere actually able to power a radio using photosynthesizing moss.

moss radio

These projects beg the question (especially in light of the recent criticisms for the energy use of vertical farms) of what green walls are going to look like and how new biological synergies can be explored to increase sustainability and production.

For example, would it be possible to line a greenhouse with these modular cubes below the level of the trays that are used for produce (so as not to shade them) to provide not only insulation (one of the classic benefits of green walls) but also energy? The greenhouse is already creating a happy environment for plant growth, so this seems like a logical next step.

Of course the ramifications of bioenergy go beyond vertical farms or greenhouse production. What do you think some of the biggest potential uses would be?

Here’s some more info on the moss wall and other green walls. Check them out and leave your comments below!


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2 thoughts on “Modular Moss Wall Generates Electricity

  1. Hey Evan,

    To the best of my knowledge, you wouldn’t need moss in addition to other plants — in theory you can just hook this system up to your cash crop as well.

    From my research though, it seems this may not be possible with hydroponics, since it seems to be a soil microbiome effect — but then again, seeding fertilizer with beneficial bacterias is not uncommon.

    This does offer a potential avenue for energy recovery in indoor systems, or generation in outdoor systems.

    –Kyle Simpson
    Local Loop Farms
    localloopfarms.com

    • Thanks for the comment, Kyle. That’s right. I’ve heard, but can’t place where, various reasons why moss is used-stability, small size (more surface area), and lower impact among them.

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