The Green Spark installation is a research project dedicated to a cutting-edgetechnology, in which plants are used to produce renewable energy. This emerging technology includes plant-microbial fuel cells and PMFCs (plant microbial fuel cell), which utilize the natural process of photosynthesis to generate electrical energy. In this process, plants using light energy consume carbon dioxide and water from the environment to convert it into organic compounds. Some of these compounds are released through the soil roots where symbiotic bacteria appear. The bacteria break down the matter, thus liberating free electrons. By providing an electrode to collect electrons from these micro-organisms, electricity can be harvested.
How Does It Work?
The system is comprised of a complex set of batteries. Each battery is a modular hanged ceramic pot, which contains a different species of plant with symbiotic bacteria. One battery can ensure up to 0.7 volts. The type of current depends on the way the pots are connected (using either a parallel or series circuit). The final installation contains 86 such batteries, which can charge two smartphones simultaneously.
Advanced customization technologies are used in this project to create a material system with complex relief that is close to organic patterns. This can help plants to develop as if in their own natural surroundings. The bottom part inside the brick has a waterproof glaze, which ensures better activation of the cathodes. The remaining material is composed of porous clay without any coating. The pot has three lugs, two for the electrical connection and one for the irrigation tube.
The project aims at promoting new environmentally friendly ways of producing energy at the urban level, while also building an environment that is delicate and sensitive to plant development.
Project AuthorsElena Mitrofanova
Shukhov Lab, HSE Graduate School of Urbanism
Los Mitros //
Prof. Chris Howe
Dr. Paolo Bombelli
Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge
Paweł Akimov, Michael Sokolov, Einar Kulbaev, Michael Omona, Neeraj Mazumder, Altynai Nogoibaeva, Anna Budnikova, Bek Zholdosh Mederbekov, Shukhov Lab, HSE Graduate School of Urbanism
Moscow Polytechnic Museum
Alexander Tretyakov, Project Fabrika 317