Plant Provided Power is a rendering of a 1970s style cab-over-engine truck powered by plants. It is an illustration meant to show an idea of how plant energy could possibly be used as a common way to generate power for everyday life. The idea came about after reading research being done at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands about Plant Microbial Fuel Cells. PMFCs work by using organic material produced by photosynthesis that isn’t being utilized by the plant. The excess material is excreted through the roots. Bacteria in the soil breaks down the residual material and releases electrons as a byproduct. The electrons are absorbed to generate electricity. At least that’s a bare understanding of how I imagined it.
The cab-over-engine truck I created, with a dry goods trailer, uses various plants such as taro, (Kalo in Hawaiian), lemongrass (native to Hawaii but introduced by Polynesians), and pikake vines (introduced to Hawaii), all which grow in my homeland of Oahu, Hawaii. According to the research, root plants and grasses work best for generating electricity. The drive wheels light up sequentially when under power. Lo’i is Hawaiian, meaning taro patch. I imagined a plant powered truck like this could carry agricultural crops and goods to support our need for both physical food and external energy.
Because of my love of science fiction, I am also drawn to sustainability and innovation. The world has not changed in the past century in that we still use the same basic fossil fuel elements that powered us from the early 1900s through the present. The advent of computers has made progress in optimizing that world, but our dependence on oil has trapped us in a lack of innovation to really push the boundaries of progress. The more our ideas evolve, the more our world evolves to reflect those ideas. I want to encourage this in my work. Instead of heavily depending on oil and extracted fuels, we could choose to use innovation to sustainably harness electricity to develop many different reliable ways of producing power.
Kevin Matthew Kaunualiʻi Kiesel (he/him) was born on the island of O`ahu and grew up in Wahiawa. His ethnic background is Hawaiian, Chinese, and Caucasian. In 2007, Kevin moved to Seattle to pursue an art education. All aspects of Kevin’s life were transplanted, academically, socially, and creatively. Living in the Pacific Northwest gave rise to an examination of his cultural identity and fused his interests in art, culture, and science fiction.