Stockholm Junior Water Prize - Switzerland 2022

From Spirulina to Electricity

By Martino Camponovo und Ramon Fitze

Our work involves building a system that integrates a RedOx cell and a culture of edible cyanobacteria, so that the dioxygen released by the algae during their growth can be used to produce electricity. The cyanobacteria used is Spirulina sp., characterized by excellent nutritional values. During the photosynthetic process, they take up CO2 from the atmosphere and release dioxygen. We used the produced dioxygen to regenerate the catholyte of a hybrid RedOx flow cell using zinc and methylene blue, materials with low toxicity. With a 2L culture of algae it was possible to produce 160 mL of dioxygen in 24 hours, which was enough to recharge the catholyte to power a LED (320 Ω) during 3 hours and 40 minutes.

While Martino and Ramon were were doing a school research on the UN Sustainable Development Goals Programme, they came across an article from the Europeanb Space Agency (ESA), "Food from Spirulina experiment underway", which inspired them to investigate more on the subject and come up with this idea for their graduation project.

Project video