Dirt = electricity.
That’s the premise behind microbial fuel cells, which harnesses the naturally occurring bugs in soil, manure and waste water to generate very small currents. For a long time, it was thought that the amounts of energy generated were too low to be of any practical use. But a new start-up in Cambridge MA – Lebônê Solutions, is taking microbial electricity to rural African villages with no electric grid and plenty of (read: mobile phone) battery powered electronics.
The technology is very cheap, easy to scale, and completely self-sustaining after the initial investment. What a great application of technology to a developing country, especially given the prevalence of mobile technology in those areas! Click here to read the MIT Technology Review article.