Bioenergy Harvesting: Electricity from Living Trees (Energy Harvesting & Storage USA 2010)

Dr Andreas Mershin,
Voltree Power
United States
Nov 17, 2010.


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Presentation Summary

  • Mechanism behind voltage difference between plant tissue and surrounding soil
  • Bioenergy harvester
  • Current Applications

Speaker Biography (Andreas Mershin)

Dr. Andreas Mershin received his MSci in Physics from Imperial College London (1997) and his PhD in Physics from Texas A&M University (2003).
Upon being awarded a record half a million dollars in NSF and state grants for his three-year PhD dissertation project "Electromagnetic and Informational Processes in Biomolecular Systems", he initiated trans-disciplinary collaborations and discovered that the stochiometry of microtubule associated proteins is crucial for associative memory function in Drosophila, showing for the first time that the cytoskeleton is directly involved in memory encoding, storage and retrieval.
Since 2004, he works at the Center for Biomedical Engineering of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is currently Research Scientist, co-PI and Program Manager of a multi-million dollar, interdisciplinary international collaboration developing nano-bioelectronic photovoltaic and chemical sensing applications using membrane proteins integrated onto semiconductors. His research and outreach activities have been featured prominently on CNN, BBC, New York Times, Endgadget, Discovery Channel, Wired, New Scientist and many other national and international mass media outlets.
A patent holder and entrepreneur in the field of biophotovoltaics and biosensors he is the Science Advisor to Voltree Power, a company developing a mesh-networked, battery-replacement-free forest wildfire alert and prediction. He has acted as science advisor to several MIT100K competitors and is the 2003 winner of the Texas A&M Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship Business Idea Competition. He consults numerous multinational electronics and renewable energy companies on cutting edge innovation in the fields of bioelectronics and bionanotechnology.
He is co-founder and past lead organizer of the Hellenic Business Network's "Big Idea" business plan competition, co-founder of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' Molecular Frontiers Foundation (daughter organization of the Nobel foundation) and the Director of the international Molecular Frontiers Inquiry Prize (a.k.a "kid Nobel") awarded annually to the best scientific questions posed by children (
He enjoys scuba diving and flying small airplanes and gliders.

Company Profile (Voltree Power)

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Voltree Power is focused on developing integrated systems that provide highly automated, cost-effective, low-maintenance solutions to real-world sensing and telemetry problems. Our immediate focus is low-power wireless sensing networks and automation systems that are designed with cost-effectiveness and ease of use in mind, while still being versatile and customizable.
In support of our integrated systems focus, Voltree Power has developed products such as our Javelin family of sensor devices, which enables the use of mesh sensor networks in hard-to-reach places, and our patented bioenergy harvesting module, which converts the metabolic energy of plants to useable electricity. Voltree Power's adaptive mesh networking architecture facilitates the transmission of sensor data from remote areas where connections to the internet or other data networks are not readily available.
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