Things that kill you, hacked for clean energy

Tobacco and E coli can wreak havoc on your body causing serious damage if not death. Some researchers from the University of California at Berkeley have found a way to take these potentially dangerous organisms and make them do our bidding. By genetically engineering a virus they have shown that the two can be used to grow solar cells. Well, they grow some of the important bits that go into solar cells, reducing the environmental impact of the manufacturing process.

Once a tobacco plant is infected with the altered virus it begins producing artificial chromophores that turn sunlight into electricity. Fully grown plants are ground up, suspending the chromophores in a liquid which is sprayed onto glass panels to create the solar cells. This types of creative solar energy production make us wonder if Thunderdome and the apocalypse are further off than we thought.

[Thanks Jon]

26 thoughts on “Things that kill you, hacked for clean energy

  1. E-Coli is actually the bacteria that is in your intestines and helps to digest your food. The only problem is that if you ingest it (e.g. if a cow’s e-coli gets in some contaminated beef) it wreaks havoc on the first part of your gastrointestinal system.

  2. …What happens when this virus infects regular crops. Do smokers lungs then generate electricity…

    But seriously, what happens if it crosses over to a different species?

  3. If solar cells are already down to $1/WATT this is gonna make them go down even more.

    cheap solar cells here we come.

  4. I don’t get why they’re trying to say that plants are *good* at converting light into energy. They’re pretty bad at it – much less than the typical 10-20% you get from commercial cells, and that’s just to chemical energy. The advantages to biologically created cells is that they’d be cheap, not that they’d be efficient.

  5. item on left is growing in my windowsill, item on right is growing in my colon.
    windowsill is a really bad place to grow tobacco.
    two plants same kind. one in my garden, one in my windowsill. the one in my windowsill has small leaves like that one in the pic, the outdoor one has leaves way bigger than my head.

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