A few students from the Vanderbilt School of Engineering won the attention of the folks over at the National Sustainable Design Expo that was held in Washington D.C. The students’ creation was a bio-hybrid solar panel that replaces the expensive silicon components that are usually used with spinach. The expo was also attended by 44 other university teams but this one was selected to receive a cash injection from the EPA amounting to $90,000. For now, the spinach’s photosynthetic proteins can only generate minute amounts of electricity but the concept behind it holds some water which is what warranted the development funds.

A professor involved in the project called Kane Jennings said that although the solar cells only eke out a small amount of power for now, with the Phase II funding from the EPA the students can work to make it achieve higher energy conversion rations in the coming years. While this might mean a cheaper alternative to expensive solar panels it also indicates a way to generate power without using earth minerals and materials; just good old vegetables. The only person who could possibly be unhappy about this decision would be Popeye.

Filed in Design. Read more about Solar.

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