Synthetic biology is the future of energy.

The Raiki project is a biological microgrid for underprivileged urban and areal areas that takes advantage of the natural functions of plants combined with energy harvesting technology. The biological plant design is based on the research of current tree functions, triboelectric technology, incorporating data on wind velocities, and leaf shape analysis.

The Raiki project will take part in the 2019 Biodesign Challenge, held on the 21st and 22nd of June at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

 

CONCEPT

Background

It is estimated that today, 1 in every eight people still have no access to electric energy, a problem that has a big impact rural areas in developing countries, that is why “Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy” is the UN’s 7th sustainable development goal and one of the biggest global environmental and health challenges today.
Most common attempts for renewable and sustainable energy sources are facing unexpected environmental challenges considering the growing need for energy. They affect wildlife, plant population and people’s lives and perception of landscapes in a negative way.

%

World population with NO access to electric energy.

Off-the-grid

Off grid solutions are a growing topic of research as a way of diminishing the dependency of energy from big power plants such as as nuclear and hydroelectric, by providing energy generated locally, with less energy waste during transportation from source to consumer, and less material and infrastructure necessary to transport this energy through long distances, being excellent alternatives especially for places with difficult access to energy where solar and wind power are usually used, with significant negative impact. From fuel cells to nanoscale energy harvesting, micro grids and distributed networks can also be extremely supportive during disasters such as earthquakes and storms, events that can interrupt the energy supply and communication systems.

design

The design is based on research of current tree functions and its material compositions, triboelectric technology, incorporating data on wind velocities and leaf shape analysis for the design of its leaves. Raiki main requirement is that its leaves has optimized movement in the wind: the more contact times the bigger is the energy output. The effectiveness of a triboelectric energy harvester depends on the tree height, branch and leaf distribution, leaf shape, composition, area, and area of contact with a second surface, necessary for contact electrification of the leaf. These aspects formed the basis for the shape design for different aspect of our tree: Raiki is a structure designed to grow under ideal weather and care conditions at a 5 year pace.

Technology

In order to transform a tree into a real efficient energy source and harvester we used and researched triboelectric and plant synthetic biology techniques. Our tree will grow naturally and as it grows it will take the ideal shape it was designed to have.
Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG) are based on triboelectrification and electrostatic conjunction and through this materials can become electrically charged when, by touching, pressing or rubbing, they come in contact with another material according to their charge affinities and the charges can be conducted out of the surface through an electrode to be used as electrical energy.

CONSIDERATIONS

Environmental Impact

Raiki’s strengths is that it’s a sustainable energy source that’s doesn’t affect wildlife, plant populations, or people’s lives in negative ways like some other energy sources like solar energy.

 

Sustainability

Raiki is a concept that would contribute to the improvement of current renewable energy sources, reducing the carbon print and greenhouse emissions for energy production, avoiding at maximum the use of non biodegradable materials and at time same time being an off grid solution.

Z

Faisability

Recent research has proven that leaves can act in a TENG as both the electrification layer and electrode, that the charges can be harvested at the plant’s stem and that not only the contact between leaves and other materials in the triboelectric series but also the contact between different leaves can lead to energy output.

Risks & Ethical issues

Raiki is a speculation that raises questions of what can happen as synthetic biology advances and which aspects the level of modification of nature it allows do we want and which ones we don’t want for our future.

We are designing the future of alternative energy sources,

by combining synthetic biology and design.

OUR BLOG

THE TEAM

Matthew Waldman

Matthew Waldman

KMD Professor

Catalina Lotero

Catalina Lotero

KMD Master Student

Marcelo Padovani

Marcelo Padovani

KMD Master Student

Yuki Minegishi

Yuki Minegishi

KMD Master Student

Olivia Peralta

Olivia Peralta

KMD Master Student

Chris Gao

Chris Gao

KMD Master Student

Asuka Muramatsu

Asuka Muramatsu

KMD Master Student

Atsushi Futatsuki

Atsushi Futatsuki

KMD Master Student

Qi Chai

Qi Chai

KMD Master Student

Siyu Zhang

Siyu Zhang

KMD Master Student

Scientific Advisors

  • Hirota Taguchi – Fluid Mechanics Scientist
  • Elif Alpoge

Special Thanks

  • Xavier Ferré
  • Cendikia Luthfita
  • Andrew Hessel
  • Takahiro Fujimoto
  • Camilo Gonzalez Posso

Powered by

  • KEIO Media Design
  • Tokyo Gas
  • BioDesign Challenge
  • Samcara

References

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F. Meder, I. Must, A. Sadeghi, A. Mondini, C. Filippeschi, L. Beccai, V. Mattoli, P. Pingue, B. Mazzolai. Energy Conversion at the Cuticle of Living Plants.Advanced Functional Materials, 2018.

D.W. Kim, S.W. Kim, U. Jeong. Lipids: source of static electricity of regenerative natural substances and nondestructive energy harvesting. Adv. Mater. 30(52), e1804949 (2018).

Yang Jie, Xueting Jia, Jingdian Zou, Yandong Chen, Ning Wang, Zhong Lin Wang, Xia Cao. Natural Leaf Made Triboelectric Nanogenerator for Harvesting Environmental Mechanical Energy.Advanced Energy Materials, 2018.

Yange Feng, Liqiang Zhang, Youbin Zheng, Daoai Wang, Feng Zhou, Weimin Liu.
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A. Gomes, C. Rodrigues, AM. Pereira, J. Ventura. Influence of Thickness and Contact Area on the Performance of PDMS-Based Triboelectric Nanogenerators.arXiv preprint arXiv:1803.10070, 2018.

Niu, S. et al. Theoretical investigation and structural optimization of single- 
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A. Higgins. Scientists thought they had created the perfect tree. But it became a nightmare.Washington Post, 2018.

V. Burnett. Mexico’s Wind Farms Brought Prosperity, but Not for Everyone.The New York Times, 2016.

Silva, Jorge. (2017). Perspectivas de Comunidades Indígenas de La Guajira Frente al Desarrollo Sostenible y el Abastecimiento Energético. Espacios. 38. 25.

Camilo González Posso.  Joanna Barney (2019) Multinacionales y transición con energía eólica en territorio Wayúu.

Norman J Wickett, … Gane KS Wong, Jim Leebens-Mack. Nov 2014. Phylotranscriptomic analysis of the origin and early diversification of land plants.Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111: E4859-E4868. PMID: 25355905
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