RoboPlant shines spotlight on solar technology at Chatsworth

RoboPlant, the world’s first robotic plant, went on display in the gardens of Chatsworth House. 

RoboPlant was designed by scientists at the University of Sheffield to demonstrate the fundamental steps of photosynthesis. In May 2015, Colin Osborne, Associate Director of the Grantham Centre, took a group of volunteers to set up RoboPlant at Chatsworth .

The team spent the weekend introducing RoboPlant to visitors, and discussing the importance of harnessing the sun’s energy to create a sustainable future.

Visitors at Chatsworth House look at RoboPlant.

What is RoboPlant?

RoboPlant is a human-sized robot that mimics photosynthesis in plants. It’s ‘leaves’ are made of photovoltaic panels which absorb light and convert it into electricity.

The electricity is used to power an electrolyser which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, as plants do as part of photosynthesis.

The next stage of photosynthesis – the fixation of carbon dioxide to stored sugars – can currently only be achieved by real plants, so cannot be shown by RoboPlant.

However, if humans could replicate this, our food and fuel shortages would be resolved.

More on photosynthesis at the Grantham Centre

If RoboPlant has got you curious about photosynthesis, then you might be interested in these articles.

Interplay of photosynthesis and evolution: paper summary. Grantham Scholar Suma Mani explains why a paper on the evolution of different types of photosynthesis could help feed the growing global population.

NEW PAPER: Boosting plant growth via C4 photosynthesis. Our Associate Director and Grantham supervisor Colin Osborne publishes ground breaking research on C4 photosynthesis.

Investigating the thylakoid membrane and photosynthesis by Guy Mayneord. Grantham Scholar Guy Mayneord on the thylakoid membrane and photosynthesis.

Guy’s supervisor Matt Johnson won an award for his work on photosynthesis. Read: Grantham supervisor awarded SEB President’s Medal.  And Matt won an award along with Guy’s other supervisor Neil Hunter. Read: Grantham supervisors awarded Biochemical Society medals.