Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Oct 23

Power from Trees

Posted in Energy Inventions | Environment and Sustainability | Future Technology

Tree Power Currently a team of MIT researchers are using platinum electrodes and ficus plants to discover the truth of feeble electric currents from trees. They have come up with an answer. They state that the pH difference between the soil and the living tree is the cause of creating electric currents. Now scientists are debating over how to use this power source for human benefits.

The most practical thing is fire alarm for forest department, originating from the trees itself. Trees electric power can charge a battery. This battery in turn will be connected to a small sensor. This sensor will power a brief radio transmission. That radio signal will transport daily soil and air condition measurements to a network of much larger, solar powered Forest Service environmental monitoring stations. Those sensors will also give out a crisis signal in the event of a sudden rise in air temperature that might indicate the outbreak of a forest fire.

“I truly believe it has potential,” said Victoria Henderson, branch chief for equipment and chemicals at the Forest Service’s National Interagency Fire Center. “If this can enhance our existing technology to a degree that would gain us a lot more fire protection, then we’d look at a plan to purchase it for our nationwide infrastructure, which is huge.”

Scientists have also discovered that the greater the pH difference between the tree and soil the more the energy will be produced. It is estimated that five to 300 nanowatts of current can be tapped from every tree every time. The device is being designed and marketed by Voltree Power. It is a recently formed subsidiary of MagCap, an electronic components maker. Voltree is collaborating with Netherlands-based GreenPeak Technologies. They have set up similar low power wireless sensors for companies such as Honeywell and Kronos. But deploying such a mesh network of radio-linked sensors on a large scale will be first of its kind. These sensors will be much smaller than the Forests Service’s monitoring stations. This will help Forest Department in quickly pinpointing the location and time of the fire.

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  • Tommy Tate

    This is one of the most interesting things that I’ve ever read that is non-fictional and I hope that we will be able to use this for future gain in science and technology. Also that we will use this just as much as any other source of energy.

  • Kiser

    One of the cleanest types of energy I’ve ever heard of, but it sounds like you would need a lot of trees to produce enough power.

  • charles

    This is an interesting new energy source. Papaya tree is also a very good conductor. I have once used it a a very efficient TV/Radio aerial.

  • Christian

    Although I am amazed they’re getting into serious research that implies the idea of extracting electrical power from trees, there is already a major environmental problem with the technologies that Voltree Power and GreenPeak developed: they are using a mesh wireless network that goes through a living forest, instead instead of traditional copper cables, which would be a safer environmental choice.

    And what’s the problem with Wireless? The radio signals used for wireless networks, due to their frequency have proven to be harmful to many living organisms, including bees, which play a key role in the natural cycles.

    Hopefully is these “green” routers transmit at very low power, then this should not be such an issue I guess, but I wonder to what extent the researchers behind that system are aware of the potential danger of wireless communications for living organisms…

    Electricity is all about sound frequency and chemical composition, but this mixture has got to be used VERY wisely, or it can become harmful. A microwave oven is a good, obvious example of that.

  • dameion

    Although this is very exciting that they can capture this minute amount of power from a tree … I’m left thinking with the old saying that they can’t see the forest for the trees. I have been trying to figure out a way to tap into a much more substantial amount of power from trees for the last decade but unfortunately lack the engineering background to do so. I am convinced however that with the right minds together in the same room …. a much much more substantial amount of power can be harvested from trees. Anyone with an interest in this sort of thing can feel free to contact me via email

  • Reagan McGuire

    I would be interested in talking to you Dameion.

  • Dameion

    re: Reagan McGuire ..

    Feel free to contact me regarding the above post. My email is dameionoreilly [AT]



  • wandjmoore

    One concern I have is lightning with trees generating electrical charges, this could attract unwanted energy, prehaps you could include this as an observation study, i.e. The effects of lightning strike on tree electrical charge, lightning can cause forest fire.

  • TodorTrionski

    If the power from a tree could charge a small radius WiFi router, this could solve many problems for the mobile operators and also to provide emergency connectivity to areas with poor to non signal.

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