This Algae-Powered Computer Probably Can’t Run Crysis

As reported by new scientista team from the University of Cambridge, the Howe Labsuccessfully powered a small computer for six months on energy produced by a photosynthetic algae colony.

The researchers created a clear plastic and aluminum casing the size of an AA battery to house the algae and an aluminum anode. The researchers believe that the most likely source of the battery’s energy production is the electrons produced by the algae as a by-product of their regular processes. The battery was left in a window at the home of researcher Paolo Bombelli from February to August 2021.

The energy was used to power a Cortex-M0+ Arm processor, a low-power, highly efficient chip often used in “Internet of Things” applications. The processor performed constant calculations to simulate a normal workload and also recorded the algae battery’s power output.

It’s unclear how well this technology could scale – don’t expect to replace your power supply with an algae tank anytime soon – but this algae-powered Arm-based computer has successfully operated for six months without failure.

The project summary cites the type of IoT applications the M0+ was designed for as a potential use for this technology, and lab head Christopher Howe believes it could meet “applications where a small amount of power can be very useful.” , such as environmental sensors or charging a cell phone.”

So maybe there’s hope to run Crysis through algae! Attach one of these bad boys to a Steam Deck (we’ll likely have a mass-market version of the battery just in time for our requests to be filled) and step into the future of the green gamer. That’s my take on this incredible feat of engineering, anyway.

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