Electricity from the bottom of the lake

Posted on | February 28, 2012

This year we, RIXC, are again working on several projects and a strand of our activities is closely connected with the cooperation partnership project called “StudioLab” (which will last until the mid-summer of 2014). Full title of the project is “StudioLab – a new European platform for creative interactions between art and science” project, and the coordinator is Trinity College Dublin, the separate webpage for StudioLab project is also coming soon.

So, last week we – Rasa, Raitis, Mārtiņš, Daina from RIXC and Anna from Art Research Lab of LiepU – visited Institute of Solid State Physics at University of Latvia (ISSP UL) for very exciting meetings with scientists and ‘bacteria battery’ workshop!

People we met at ISSP UL were Dr.phys. Jānis Kleperis, head of Laboratory of Hydrogen Energy Materials and Msc. Ilze Dimanta and Msc. Arturs Gruduls and they all are particularly interested in renewable energy sources.

We introduced they to our projects and they in turn explained what they were working on in their laboratories at the Institute located nicely on the very Daugava river bank. Jānis Kleperis and Ilze Dimanta are researching hydrogen’s quality being a carrier of clean energy which can be obtained on any place on Earth (including water). And, for the record, they are not new in the field – hydrogen based research in Latvia has a history of more than 100 years. Ilze is currently working on her PhD researching future possibilities of bacteria, namely, trying to dig out the most effective combination of bacteria and substratum for hydrogen production.

Ilze Dimanta explaining her research of E. coli bacteria in energy production. Feb 22, 2012. Photo: M. Ratniks

But our special interest this time was the work undertaken by Arturs Gruduls who uses available materials and equipment to produce energy directly out of bacteria! And so we did – under the leadership of Arturs we ourselves made battery cells.

Arturs Gruduls (centre) introducing us to what, how and what from we were about to make in the workshop. Feb 22, 2012. Photo: M. Ratniks

And the cells switched in the chain as a battery at the end of the workshop did run the electric clock! The voltage ranged for each separate cell from about 0.15 V to 1 V (depending on the size of the cell) right after they were made, but the thing is that voltage continues to grow for the next 4 hours and preserves it’s power for a half of a year. Real chance for you to power your alarm clock with the mud of the nearest lake!

Raitis pouring mud mixed with water to make the organic part of the cell. Feb 22, 2012. Photo: M. Ratniks

Extracting oxygen with the help of argon gas to make anaerobe environment. Feb 22, 2012. Photo: M. Ratniks

Testing the voltage of bacteria battery with electric clock. Feb 22, 2012. Photo: M. Ratniks

We came back from the Institute really impressed, inspired and full of ideas for the future projects, we will do our best also to keep you up to date on this page – stay tuned for more information coming with time!

An article by Jānis Kleperis et al. “Research into Hydrogen Technologies in Latvia” can be found in “Acoustic Space #8: ENERGY” publication in English and Latvian.

by Daina / RIXC

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