Sep 15, 2009

Science Scene - Tree Power :o)

University of Washington scientists have discovered a new source of electricity: Trees.

In an experiment that will seem familiar to students of the potato, the scientists stuck one electrode into a bigleaf maple, and another in the ground, and saw that the tree generated a tiny stream of electricity -- a few hundred millivolts.

That's not enough electricity to do much ... but run a circuit and get published in the scientific journal Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Transactions on Nanotechnology.

A few hundred millivolts of electricity isn't enough to do much. Or is it? The scientists built a custom boost converter using nanotechnology that stores input voltages of as little as 20 millivolts (20 thousandths of a volt) and produces 1.1 volts -- enough to run low-power sensors that might monitor environmental conditions, help detect forest fires or gauge the health of trees.


  1. That's pretty cool. Only a few steps away from being able to harvest electrical energy from human beings. I bet people call you "copper top" all time...

  2. How great would it be to see the sensors come to fruition and possibly get a big jump on wildfires.

  3. That really IS cool! I wondered what that buzz we hear late at night was. ;) I laughed at the "students of the potato" part. A classic!

  4. More reasons to conserve trees!! They may one day power your lightbulb in the bathroom!!

  5. If it can be used to help conservation and predict fires... that is enough for me. :-)

    Interesting, thanks Ken.

    be well...

  6. Not like I need an excuse to save trees, but I'll take any reason to convince other people to save them. Interesting tech development.


Tell Me What You Think, Don't Make me go Rogue on you :o)