IaaC (Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia) student Elena Mitrofanova has developed a moss wall that produces renewable energy in her postgraduate thesis project, called “Moss Voltaics”. The modular system is based on the emerging science of biophotovoltaics, which is about generating renewable energy from the photosynthesis of living organisms like moss.
“Moss Voltaics” is made up of adjoining pods, each containing a shrub of living moss. The system works off the moss’s inherent ability to create electricity. During photosynthesis, the moss releases organic compounds into the soil where bacteria break them down to form electrodes.
Mitrofanova’s soil consists of carbon fibres and hydrogel, which together form an anode that attracts and harvests electrodes to generate electricity. The interlocking pods of moss create a circuit of electricity resulting in a clean energy system.
The insular design of the pod ensures the moss has a dark, moist environment to flourish in. The fact that the pods are also modular means that they can be used to create a wall of any size, relative to the amount of electricity required.
Sixteen pods can only generate three volts of electricity, but Mitrofanova believes that this is more useful for Northern countries that are accustomed to energy-efficient technology. In these parts of the world, solar energy is not as effective but moss is widespread. Mitrofanova imagines the system on a larger scale spread throughout urban environments and infrastructure.