Charge Your Smart Phone With 3D-Printed Solar Tree

Scientists at VTT Technical Research Centre have developed a prototype of a tree that harvests solar energy from indoor and outdoor light and turns it into electricity to power small electronic devices, such as phones, humidifiers, thermometers and LED light bulbs. VTT is a leading research and technology company in the Nordic countries and part of the Finnish government's initiatives to spur innovation.

VTT explains that we are harvesting trees for energy in such great numbers, which is not sustainable or environmentally responsible. The company hopes that their innovative electricity-producing "tree" can help reduce deforestation. "Now you can produce energy not by wiping out whole forests. On the contrary, by adding trees," VTT says in their video. The company has produced an "artificial electricity harvesting tree that can be infinitely replicated."

The tree trunk is 3D-printed and made of "wood-based biomaterials," called biocomposites. The leaves are organic solar cells printed using well-established and widely used mass production techniques.

The company hopes that their innovative electricity-producing "tree" can help reduce deforestation. Photo credit: VTT

Each leaf has a separate power converter, making it possible to harvest solar energy from its organic solar cells and kinetic energy from vibrations in the surrounding environment. The leaves are relatively affordable and consume very little raw material. And once the panels reach the end of their life, they can be recycled.

Currently, the prototype can only power small electronic devices, but the more solar cells there are in a tree, the more energy it can harvest. "Today it can power your mobile [phone], but imagine the impact a whole forest could have tomorrow," says VTT.


Tim Cook: New Solar Farm Will Be Apple’s ‘Biggest, Boldest and Most Ambitious Project Ever’

Burning Trees for Electricity Is Actually Dirtier Than Coal

Show Comments ()

Skylines to Switch Off as Millions Connect to the Planet to Celebrate Earth Hour 2018

On Saturday, March 24 at 8:30 p.m. local time, skylines around the world will go dark as millions celebrate WWF's Earth Hour to spark global awareness and action on nature and the environment.

From the Eiffel Tower to the Empire State Building, and the Bird's Nest stadium to Burj Khalifa, thousands of landmarks will switch off their lights in solidarity for the planet, urging individuals, businesses and governments worldwide to move forward the conversations and solutions we need to build a healthy, sustainable future for all.

Keep reading... Show less
Save Ohio's Bobcat's is working to oppose a proposed trapping season for the recently-threatened feelines. Save Ohio's Bobcats

Concerned Ohioans Unite Against Bobcat Trapping Plan

Environmental activists, science educators and the Athens Ohio City Council are teaming up against a controversial new proposal by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife (ODNRDOW) to open a bobcat trapping season in the southeastern part of the state, The New Political reported Wednesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Industrial agribusiness is destroying our most precious natural resource—water. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

From 'Sea to Shining Sea,' Industrial Ag Fouls America's Waterways

By Katherine Paul

A citizen-led group in Nebraska is fighting Costco's plan to build a huge chicken factory farm operation that residents in nearby cities say would pollute their drinking water.

Residents of Devils Lake, North Dakota, along with members of the Spirit Lake Nation Tribe are battling plans to build a hog CAFO in a neighboring community. They say the operation would pollute Devils Lake and area wetlands.

Keep reading... Show less
Plastic samples collected from the Great Pacific garbage patch. The Ocean Cleanup

Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Now Twice the Size of Texas

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) floating off the coast of California now measures 1.6 million square kilometers (about 1 million square miles), according to a startling new study. To put that into perspective, the clump of trash is about the size of three Frances, or twice the size of Texas.

Not only that, the analysis, published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, also revealed that the massive Pacific trash vortex contains up to 16 times more plastic than previous estimates—and could rapidly get worse.

Keep reading... Show less
Sulfide chimneys coated with iron-based microbial mat at Urashima Vent. Deep sea hydrothermal vents like these are targeted for mining. NOAA / Flickr

Deep Sea Mining Decisions: Approaching the Point of No Return

By Sebastian Losada

Over the last two weeks, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) has been in discussions in Jamaica. Its mission—to work towards the finalization of exploitation regulations, a so-called mining code, that will allow commercial deep sea mining operations to begin all around the world.

In the quest for minerals, deep seabed mining means to extend mining activities into the deep ocean. The coming two years are critical in the opening—or not—of this unnecessary new frontier of resource exploitation.

Keep reading... Show less

One Mom’s Campaign to Save the Swimmers

By Stacy Malkan

"I want grandkids one day, so sperm is important to me because I've got three young boys," said mom, author and social media genius Leah Segedie in a video introducing her "Save the Swimmers" campaign.

"This is where my youngest rolls his eyes at me and says, 'I know Mom. Avoiding plastics can help save my swimmers, oooh kay.' But to me this is no laughing matter. Over 25 years of studies have demonstrated that these little sperm are crying out for help."

Keep reading... Show less

Can Food-Focused Medicine Cure Food-Related Disease?

By Julie Wilson

So-called "modern" food, produced through industrialized, chemical-intensive farming practices, is causing a host of chronic, hard-to-diagnose and hard-to-treat health problems in children and adults, say Michelle Perro, MD and Vincanne Adams, PhD, authors of What's Making Our Children Sick?

Keep reading... Show less
Protest against Arctic oil at Statoil commissioned rig in Norway. Greenpeace

'Kayaktivists' Board Rig Set to Drill Arctic

Peaceful "kayaktivists" from Greenpeace Norway boarded a Statoil-contracted rig set to drill two Arctic wells this year.

Two people boarded the rig at the Skipavik yard on Norway's west coast Thursday morning and have requested a meeting with the rig's captain.

Keep reading... Show less


The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!