IITKGP Discovers Plants as Renewable Energy Sources


IIT Kharagpur Foundation (USA) NEWSLETTER

Volume: 6.1.2024

Dear Reader,

In this issue, we delve into an innovative study led by Dr. Suman Chakraborty that explores the potential of plants as a renewable energy source by harnessing their natural electrical rhythms. Additionally, we spotlight Dr. Samir V. Kamat, the current DRDO chief and IITKGP alumnus, known for his reformative leadership and significant contributions to critical material programs.

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IITKGP Research Team find that plants’ electrical rhythm could be a renewable energy source

Researchers from IIT Kharagpur, led by Dr. Suman Chakraborty, studied the potential of using plants to produce electricity by leveraging their circadian rhythm. Plants capture light for photosynthesis and absorb water and nutrients during the day, while growth processes slow down at night. Dr. Chakraborty explained that the natural energy gathered in plants offers a continuous and sustainable renewable energy source. The team's goal was to determine the amount of potential electricity plants can produce and how this potential is influenced by their biological clock.

The researchers inserted electrodes into water hyacinths and attached reservoirs with electrodes to lucky bamboo. They found that the electrical potential in plants varies in a cyclic rhythm that matches their daily biological processes. This potential increases with decreased ion concentration or increased pH in the fluid, linked to water transpiration and ion transport mechanisms. Their experiments confirmed the possibility of producing electricity in a cyclic rhythm, closely related to the plant's natural daily rhythm. Dr. Chakraborty emphasized that this discovery allows for tapping into electrical power sustainably, with no environmental impact or disruption to ecosystems.

In their research paper on this topic, the IITKGP scientists conclude that “It is incredible to learn that plants can actively modulate the fluid flow inside them under the influence of the diurnal biological clock. Adapting to changing environmental conditions is essential for sustenance of life, and plants have done it through the different ages of evolution.”


IITKGPian Samir V Kamat gets one-year extension as DRDO chairman till end of May 2025

Dr. Kamat, the current DRDO chief, is known for his reformist approach and is tasked with implementing government-planned reforms to make the organization more results-oriented and focused on core science and technology areas. He earned his B.Tech in Metallurgical Engineering from IIT Kharagpur in 1985 and a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from The Ohio State University in 1988, joining DRDO in 1989. Dr. Kamat has led critical material programs, including the development of high-strength steels for naval ships, high-temperature titanium and nickel-based alloys for aero engines, and stealth materials for military applications. He is a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering and the Institution of Engineers India, and has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Alumni Award from IIT Kharagpur and the Scientist of the Year Award from DRDO.

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