News - February 7, 2017

Atlas garden generates power

Roelof Kleis

Plant-e, the WUR spin-off company, has placed a panel with information about the garden that can be lit using power from plants.

(Foto: Roelof Kleis)
Plants convert carbon dioxide and water into sugars and oxygen. The plants use those sugars as nourishment and building material. However, nothing is perfectly efficient. Excess material reaches the soil through the roots and soil bacteria digest that waste matter. Plant-e collects the electrons that are released in this process and bundles them. In theory, this is a perfect organic battery

Test setups
Plant-e has been working on power from plants for a few years. They have test setups spread
throughout the country that power LEDs and tiny lamps using plant power. But the campus, the cradle of plant power, was missing among these locations. With the placement of the setup in the boggy part of the grassland next to Atlas, this has now been corrected.


The grassland is pre-eminently suited for generating power from plants, as the system requires a wet soil to work. That is because part of the chemical reactions must take place anaerobically, but it also helps in conducting the electrons, explains Tim Crolla of Plant-e. For this reason, the heart of the plant battery is positioned at a low point in the garden, about ten metres from the info panel, where it is expected to be permanently damp.

At that spot, thirty posts mark the area where the power is generated. The power is led to the info panel underground. To close the circuit, thirty hoses direct air – and therefore oxygen – into the soil. The oxygen is converted to water on the negative side (together with electrons and hydrogen ions). The information panel along the yellow path provides bilingual information (in Dutch and English) about the garden and the principle of plant power.

That information can easily be read during daytime, but you need light when it gets dark. A push of the button then performs the needed miracle.