Pete the Fern Takes the World’s First Plant Selfie

October 18, 2019 By IdeaConnection

Plant SelfieA plant in the United Kingdom has taken the world's first botanical selfie.

The honour goes to a maidenhair fern, according to the Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

During trials, the plant called Pete took photos of itself every 20 seconds using the waste energy it created from photosynthesis.

In this process, plants produce sugars and oxygen from water and carbon dioxide.

The sugars are transported throughout plants, and some are excreted as waste products by the roots.

Microbes in the soil breakdown the sugars still further releasing energy.

In the ZSL experiment, an anode and cathode captured this energy and charged a supercapacitor. When the capacitor was full, power was discharged, and a photo taken.

"Plants naturally deposit bio-matter as they grow, which in turn feeds the natural bacteria present in the soil, creating energy that can be harnessed by fuel cells and used to power a wide range of vital conservation tools remotely, including sensors, monitoring platforms and camera traps," said Al Davies, ZSL's Conservation Technology Specialist, in a statement.

"Most power sources have limits -- batteries must be replaced while solar panels rely on a source of sunlight -- but plants can survive in the shade, naturally moving into position to maximize the potential of absorbing sunlight -- meaning the potential for plant-powered energy is pretty much limitless."

Plant Power Applications

The plant-powered camera could be used to monitor remote parts of rainforests to record data such as plant growth, temperature and humidity. The information can be used to understand climate change and habitat loss better.

ZSL is now planning a second trial, but this time it will take place in the wild.

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