Quantcast

Charge Your Smart Phone With 3D-Printed Solar Tree

Business

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.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

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

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Justin Trudeau delivers remarks during an election rally in Markham, Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 15. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. / NurPhoto via Getty Images

By Chloe Farand for Climate Home News

Canadians are voting on Monday in an election observers say will define the country's climate future.

Read More Show Less
Activists Greta Thunberg (2ndL), Iris Duquesne(C), and Alexandria Villaseñor (3rd R) attend a press conference where 16 children present their official human rights complaint on the climate crisis to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child at the UNICEF Building on Sept. 23 in NYC. KENA BETANCUR / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Taft

Fifteen kids from a dozen countries, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, recently brought a formal complaint to the United Nations. They're arguing that climate change violates children's rights as guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a global agreement.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on could fall heavily on the public.
Susan Vineyard / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Justin Mikulka

Increasingly, U.S. shale firms appear unable to pay back investors for the money borrowed to fuel the last decade of the fracking boom. In a similar vein, those companies also seem poised to stiff the public on cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on.

Read More Show Less
Blue tarps given out by FEMA cover several roofs two years after Hurricane Maria affected the island in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP / Getty Images

Top officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed to lawmakers last week that they knowingly — and illegally — stalled hurricane aid to Puerto Rico.

Read More Show Less
Actress Jane Fonda (C) and actor Sam Waterston (L) participate in a protest in front of the U.S. Capitol during a "Fire Drill Fridays" climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill, Oct. 18. Mark Wilson / Getty Images News

It appears Jane Fonda is good for her word. The actress and political activist said she would hold demonstrations on Capitol Hill every Friday through January to demand action on the climate crisis. Sure enough, Fonda was arrested for demonstrating a second Friday in a row Oct. 18, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Only this time, her Grace and Frankie co-star Sam Waterston joined her.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Visitors look at the Aletsch glacier above Bettmeralp, in the Swiss Alps, on Oct. 1. The mighty Aletsch — the largest glacier in the Alps — could completely disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to rein in climate change, a study showed on Sept. 12. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Switzerland's two Green parties made historic gains in the country's parliamentary elections Sunday, according to projections based on preliminary results reported by The New York Times.

Read More Show Less
A mural in Richwood, West Virginia, a once booming Appalachia coal town, honors the community's history. Jeff Greenberg / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

The coal industry is dying. But we can't allow the communities that have been dependent on coal to die along with it.

Read More Show Less
ThitareeSarmkasat / iStock / Getty Images

by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Every fruit lover has their go-to favorites. Bananas, apples, and melons are popular choices worldwide and can be purchased almost anywhere.

Read More Show Less