Highly weather-independent algae batteries that continuously provide energy for off-grid decentralized energy needs, for instance for low-density IoT devices.

Leyna Calderón
Eindhoven University of Technology
Sustainable Innovation

Over het initiatief / About the initiative


In welke fase zit jouw initiatief? / In what stage is your initiative?


Heb je jouw initiatief al gevalideerd? / Did you validate your initiative?

We haven't conducted a proper feasibility plan as this academic course we are expecting to start the experimentation phase. However, we have done an approximation of the material cost compared the non-sustainable alternative (small lithium battery, circular shape) and we could save up to 10 cents per battery by only the replacement of the electrode in comparison.

Meer informatie over jouw initiatief / More info about your initiative

Team Voltalgae aims to use BPV systems to power small weather stations, sensors in a smart house, greenhouse, or other types of sensors, overall low-power IoT devices. These can produce energy from light in a renewable and sustainable way instead of just storing energy. This project has a circular perspective as a Life Cycle Assessment of the whole life of these BPVs is planned to be executed. We are trying to offer a service, in which the BPV systems are replaced after a certain time, which makes the materials stay in the economy as much as possible.


These devices’ energy generation is less intermittent than solar panels, as they can also generate a current in the dark. They do not need to be connected to the grid and might be strategically used in remote areas. In addition, most of the materials used for these cells have to be biocompatible and non-toxic to the environment in general.


Currently, BPV cells in an ambient environment reached peak power outputs of 4 W cm-2 and can power a chip continuously, nevertheless, the potential energy output improvement aims to reach a mW cm-2 range, required for low-power IoT devices, and even higher to expand its range of usage.


The project is committed to providing decentralized energy to low-power IoT devices (SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy), and prioritizes the use of materials with a known origin, allowing for a complete assessment of the battery’s life cycle, including raw material extraction, disposal, and CO2 emissions (SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production). As an overview of these emissions, the lithium production for a large greenhouse using 30,000 IoT devices implies, approximately, the emission of 16,000 kg of CO2.

Wat is er anders/nieuw aan jouw idee/oplossing t.o.v. bestaande oplossingen? / What is different/new about your idea/solution compared to existing solutions??

Currently, the technology we are working with, photosynthesis, is publicly available and has undergone extensive research. Other universities have conducted experimentation purely for experimental purposes.

There are other companies working on proofs of concepts using similar technology. For example, Algae Tree utilizes a large tank of algae to humidify the air, while Nova Innova has created a plant in a dome that lights up when touched.

Our goals differ significantly from these companies. We believe that the reason other companies have hesitated to enter the market with this technology is due to its lower output. However, if improved, it could serve as a perfect alternative to the small lithium batteries currently used to power millions of IoT devices in greenhouses. Furthermore, if we are able to keep track of the entire lifespan of our batteries and provide the best possible solution to ensure they remain in the economy for as long as possible and make it as cheap or cheaper, we could displace lithium batteries from powering small devices. Therefore, we aim to offer more of a service than just a product.

Ultimately, the social aspect would be to be able to offer these batteries to those who are not connected to the grid and strive to have any type of energy source at all.

As you can see, our project directly addresses two key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).

Wat zijn jouw volgende stappen om het verder te ontwikkelen? / What are your next steps to develop the initiative?

We have recently achieved recognition for our work. We were awarded the 2nd prize in the TU/e contest held in Eindhoven, followed by the 3rd prize in the Green Challenge at DTU in Denmark. These has provided us with a budget to initiate experimentation. Our next move is to start experimentation, to identify the most suitable biocompatible materials for developing the technology, determining the ideal design for the battery case, and exploring the potential size limitations for the battery.

Simultaneously, we are actively assessing our precise market case and identifying the companies that would benefit the most from our technology. While we anticipate interest from greenhouses and weather stations, our aim is to create customized solutions rather than a one-size-fits-all product since it won’t work as we need to make algae work in a proper environment to create the current. Understanding the specific needs of different companies is crucial to tailoring our offering effectively.

These steps follow after having  of our core identity, differentiating factors, and ultimate objectives. Now, we are poised to delve into the details, refine our technology through experimentation, and strategically identify and cater to the demands of our target market.

These steps are the ones set right after having set the bases of who we are, what makes us different and what do we want to achieve.


Wat heb je nodig om (nog meer) impact te maken met dit initiatief? / What do you need to make (more) impact with this initiative?

We are a dedicated team consisting of three members from the Honors Academy in Eindhoven. Our shared passion for this project has driven us to put in significant effort throughout the year. However, in order to improve even faster, we recognise the need to attract more passionate individuals who are willing to join our team. To achieve this, we require various forms of promotion to spread awareness about our project and attract like-minded individuals.

Additionally, securing laboratory space might prove to be a challenging task due to the high demand within our university, TU/e. Finding suitable room within the laboratory facilities can be a complex process, considering the competing demands from other projects and researchers