Meeting the startup which uses Plants to charge your Smartphone

Bioo is a Barcelona startup which has developed a plant-pot system to generate electricity from photosynthesis. We asked them how their technology worked, and what they hoped to achieve in their crowdfunding campaign.

bioo_biotech_greentech_starup_plant_electricity_barcelona_biotechnologyBioo is a 9-month old Spanish startup created by three students under the umbrella of Arkyne Technologies. The company is run by CEO Pablo Vidarte, currently, a student in multimedia engineering, and the rest of the founding team is composed of COO Javier Rodriguez, a nanotechnology student, and CTO Rafael Rebollo, also a multimedia engineering student.

During this 9 month period, they have gone on to win the Open Creativity Challenge by the Imagine Creativity Center in Barcelona (also run in San Francisco) and even start their own fundraising campaign, which is pretty fast for such technology.

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The Bioo team: Rafael Rebollo, Pablo Vidarte and Javier Rodríguez.

The Bioo team: Rafael Rebollo, Pablo Vidarte, and Javier Rodríguez

The team presented their project at the 4YFN event in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress (MWC), and they will be going to Boston to participate in the startup accelerator of the Richi Foundation later this month.

They also launched a crowdfunding IndieGoGo campaign for their latest prototype – the Bioo Lite, which has raised over €77,000 so far (and 16 days still remain). Simply put, their product is a ‘Biological battery’ in a plant-pot, which directly generates electricity from plants and their associated bacteria.

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The electricity is generated from plants via the natural chemical reaction in photosynthesis. Basically, when the plants excrete organic mater into the soil it is broken down by bacteria and from the waste product, electrons are released. These are then harvested using inert electrodes, thus converting them from chemical energy into electricity, without damaging the plant.

This technology sounds straightforward and simple and has been developed by others, but the challenge is to generate useful amounts of electricity in a cost-effective way: Bioo claims efficiency levels that haven’t been achieved before. In fact, it is 10 times more efficient than its biggest competitor, Plant-E, based in the Netherlands.

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Plant-E is one of the World Economic Forum’s 2015 class of Technology Pioneers, and is not the only company developing this technology, there are two initiatives in South America. One is in UTEC, Peru and the other one Ekaia in Chile.

Bioo states that their technology will be able to cover the standard electricity needs for a home with 100m2 of vegetation, and is collaborating among others with Repsol Foundation, LS Technova, UAB Empren and Yuzz Sant Cugat.

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A break down of how the Bioo Lite product is designed to generate electricity from the bacteria

At the moment the Bioo Lite can be pre-ordered through the crowdfunding platform IndieGoGo. The product comes with a 1-year warranty but should be able to work to charge your phone for at least 2-3 years.

Since Bioo Lite is a size-reduced version of the bigger panels,  it includes natural chemical enhancers in order to support the energy produced by photosynthesis, adapting its scale for home use.

This is the kind of disruptive Greentech which could really change how we think about easy ‘Green Energy’ in the home. Are you convinced? I was… 


 Feature Image Credit: Remix of Graphics by Labiotech (Source: Bioo / Pixabay)

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