Paulo Rocha
Acrónimo | Acronym
Nome | Name
Generating Energy from Electroactive Algae
Sobre | About
Starting Grant (StG), PE8, ERC-2020-STG 2021/01/01 - 2025/12/31


Principal Investigator Paulo Rocha
Acronym Green

Generating Energy from Electroactive Algae

ERC Type Starting Grant (StG), PE8, ERC-2020-STG
Year 2020
Value 2,3 M€
Research unit CFE, UC


The aim of this grant is to establish a world leading research centre focusing on developing a radically different way to generate clean energy from algae. GREEN will deliver a self-sustainable bioenergy generator, with an output power of the order of W/m2 that is at least 100 times larger than current state-of-art bioenergy generators. The unprecedented enhancement in output power finally breaks the power scalability barrier for bioenergy generators and in this way delivers impact on the world’s renewable energy research trajectory. I have recently discovered that a population of diatoms, a form of algae, communicate in a cooperative manner and produce long lasting large magnitude electrical oscillations. The discovery has been made possible through my recent breakthrough - I have developed a large area and low impedance transducer to record cooperative communication in cells. My idea is to harvest the generated electricity from the algae. Using 2D electrodes, the output power is µW/m2, which is low. However, the power increases with the density of diatoms adhered to the electrode and with the electrical coupling of the cells to the electrode. By going from a 2D to porous 3D electrodes, and by optimizing the coupling an output power of W/m2 is within my reach. To deliver the new bioenergy generator, it is essential to understand 1) which materials and 3D electrode geometries comprise larger cell densities and enable a more efficient charge transfer from the living organisms to the electrode 2) which organisms provide the higher output powers, and 3) how the electric circuitry will be developed to store and deliver the generated power. This multidisciplinary research will advance the state-of-the-art by delivering a prototype for a new green self-sustained energy harvester, suitable for power scalability, through realising technological advances in 1) electrochemical electrodes, 2) cooperative signalling mechanisms in algae and 3) energy harvesting circuits.
Start date 2021-01-01
End date 2025/12/31
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