Project by:
Thora H Arnardottir, Jessica Dias and Christopher Wong
Tutors: Chiara Farinea, Paolo Bombelli & Carmelo Zappulla
Assistant: Maria Kuptsova
Biology Support: Núria Conde Pueyo
Guest Advisor: Claudia Pasquero 

Biophotovoltaic (BPV) Algae Sensor



​               ature has clearly demonstrated that it is possible
               to harness solar energy through the process of
               photosynthesis. When the energy of light is
              harvested by an oxygen-producing photosynthetic organism a series of photochemical and biochemical reactions takes place, leading to carbon dioxide and other inorganic materials such as water being transformed into organic products like carbohydrates, proteins and lipids, allowing the organism to grow.

The same light energy can be used by photosynthetic organisms to generate electrical current by combining those organisms with electrodes to form biological solar cells. These apparatuses are generically called bioelectrochemical systems (BESs), or as we prefer biophotovoltaic (BPV) devices. The technology behind BPV system was developed by Paolo Bombelli and his team at the University of Cambridge.



A biofilm of algae connected to a conducting mesh that converts the energy created by photosynthesis into electricity

             This project focused on using and adapting the
              biophotovoltaic film system to create an adaptive
   energy-sensing algae cell, harnessing this microorganism’s ability to harvest solar energy and generate electricity via the photosynthesis process. The cell panel rotates to agitate the algae and generates electricity through a network of conductive anode and cathode meshes with a carbon catalyst to transfer electrons from the cell surface to the electrode that harvests them. The structure lays out each panel in such a way as to maximize solar exposure without sun-bleaching the biofilms. Through connected tubing within the transparent structure, the power output from this setup is able to sense the energy output and monitor different conditions in which algae can be energy generating.


The Cell

The material buildup of the cellprototype 

Bio[lum] Skin_Thora H Arnardottir

Algae Injection

The cells have a very precise process of injection of the algae to prevent leakage due to pressure. This is done via syringes, one containing the algae the other one to draw air out 


Biophotovoltaic is a seminar at IaaC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed at Master in Advanced Architecture, MAA02 in 2016 

See more here

Copyright © 2015-2021 Thora H Arnardottir. All rights reserved.

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