Streetlamps, and other kinds of lamps in common, are one of the most important part of our life nowadays, yet it is also the most energy consuming device. That’s why researchers are finding a way to get renewable energies to power up those streetlamps.
Currently there are many potential options for powering streetlamps. A man in United Kingdom have found a way to light up streetlamp by using dog poo. You might have also read our article about bioluminescent streetlamp which is predicted to be the future of our dependence on lights.
And in addition, nowadays, automatic solar panel lamps can be found anywhere in the world. Doesn’t want to be left out, a Dutch designer Ermi van Oers joined the race in making an eco-friendly lamp. Pretty similar to the solar panel lamps, this lamp also works by the ‘power of sunlight’, but not in casual way.
The Living Light
Van Oers fist presented about her innovation in Dutch Design Week which was held at the end of 2017. She explained that the lamp she designed doesn’t need any electrical socket because it can generate its own energy, from a plant being planted in the case.
She called it the Living Light, based on how the ‘life’ inside the case can generate light. The lamp itself uses microorganisms to convert chemical energy which is produced by plants during its natural photosynthesis process.
In photosynthesis process, this kind of activity happens when plants use sunlight to photosynthesize and produce organic compounds in the soil. The organic compounds produced are then broken down by soil bacteria which produce electrons and protons in the process.
This is when the electricity needed to light up the lamp produced. Overall, such kind of process produce electricity in similar way like how regular battery works. For your information, such kind of electrical energy can be found naturally everywhere, generated by microorganisms in the soil.
What matters is how to harvest such kind of energy for further use. In Living Light, van Oers use carbon electrode as the anode of the ‘battery’ to capture the electrons and transfer the electrical current through a wire to provide electricity for the lamp.
The electrons then flow through electrical circuit and come back into the soil, ending the cycle. In that way, Living Light is actually a battery-powered lamp, but in this case the ‘battery’ is organic compounds being broken down by microorganisms.
More Than Just A Green Lamp
In a video, van Oers explained that she not only wanted to join the renewable energy race, but also to change people’s mindset about lamps. “If we implement this natural energy into our system, nature and technology will merge. Imagine how we take care of our lamps if they were actually alive,” she stated.
Indeed, van Oers want to make the lamp she designed to serve both purposes, to beautify your room and provide functional uses as a lamp. By serving both purposes, she intended to make lamps to change “from something artificial become something personal”.
Not only by showing its existence as a “living lamp”, van Oers also designed this lamp to light up when it receives your “love”. To turn this on, you don’t need to click on a switch, but rather just touch it gently with your hands. In some ways, this will give you more ‘personal’ sense.
“I hope we come to a point where every plant pot is provided with this technology, and we don’t know any better than that plants are part of our energy system,” said van Oers.
So, at first sight, the lamp may appear like ordinary flower vase, no electrical socket or any signs on it for being a lamp. People might even think it is a flower in a vase that serves merely beauty. But when the sun goes down, just touch it gently and you will notice that the vase is glowing bright.
Working On Bigger Plants
But apparently, her dreams and vision for this green energy is bigger than the Living Light vase. She dreams to bring such technology to bigger scale and work with bigger and larger number of plants in any place on earth.
“The potential is huge. Street lights could be connected to trees. Forests could become power plants. Rice fields in Indonesia could produce food and electricity for the local population,” she said. She also stated that such kind of renewable energy harvesting process may be able to be used in future cities.
And the future doesn’t seem too far now, in fact, she has been working with Rotterdam government to apply this technology to light up a park. However, in this current state, she wants to make many more improvements to make the device to be more efficient and effective in collecting and converting energy.
However, bringing up this idea to public is already good news for us and for the earth. This way, we are informed that the savior of our earth from climate change, plants, are also able to provide the energy we need. So, instead of burning more coals, we can just plant more trees.
“Nature will get a higher economical value and we will start making more green places so that biodiversity can flourish, while lowering greenhouse gas emissions at the same time,” she said as quoted from Deezen.
Similar Project In Peru
Van Oers is apparently not the only one who works on such kind of ‘energy harvesting’ device. A group of researchers from Universidad de Ingenieria y Tecnologia have been working on similar device than ’harvest’ electricity from plants’ photosynthesis process to light up rural areas in Peru.
The Peruvian device is called Plantalamparas and comes in a shape that resembles Wall-E. Working in similar procedure to produce light, this device was built to provide lights for people in 42% of Peruvian rural rainforest areas where electricity is absent.
The main purpose of this device was to extend daytime into the nighttime to let students study after the dark without burning fossil fuels. It opens up chances for those inventors-to-be to study better, and who knows if any of those students may become the inventor of more green devices in the future.