Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a so-called earth battery. It is intended to extract energy from the ground and is relatively easy to recreate. The backgrounds.

Scientists are developing increasingly creative approaches to generating and storing energy. For example, excess energy can be stored in a CO2 battery. Ordinary bricks can be used as energy storage. Researchers at Northwestern University are now joining in with another invention.

Because they developed a battery that draws electricity directly from the earth. The technology, based on the principle of microbial fuel cells (MFC), could one day be a sustainable alternative to traditional batteries. The idea is by no means new.

Earth battery energy is based on research from 1911

MFC technology has been known since 1911. But researcher Bill Yen and his team recently managed to expand the possible applications. To do this, the natural activity of soil bacteria is used, which releases electrons to a nearby line. The process only uses up the carbon present in the soil.

The earth battery design is suitable for almost any soil type. It consists of a cartridge mold that sits vertically on a horizontal disc. The earth battery must be buried deep enough into the ground to encounter the surrounding moisture.

The top part should be flush with the surface so that the battery is supplied with oxygen. A protective cap prevents dirt from entering. A water-repellent material ensures correct functioning in floods.

Earth battery can easily power sensors

The researchers have already tested an initial use case: the earth battery generated enough electricity to power sensors that measure moisture, nutrients and pollutants in the soil. Farmers can use this to improve crop yields, for example. In addition to its practical use, the battery also scores points for its sustainability.

According to Yen, the MFC battery can potentially last forever as long as there is organic carbon in the soil. In addition, all components for the MFC technology are available in hardware stores, which makes it easy to replicate. The invention could therefore be of great importance in the long term for the area of ​​sustainable energy production.

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