Free Electricity from Compost – DIY Earth Battery.

Free Electricity from Compost – DIY Earth Battery.

The lab called ‘Earth’ has been researching & perfecting how to harvest solar power for over 3 billion years.  The best way was found to be:  bacteria & plants.

A teaspoon of soil can contain upwards of 50 billion microbes (for comparison, there are about 7.3 billion humans on our entire planet).

Larry Cooper, with Rita Abi-Ghanem, PhD

So, where do we find bacteria?


HOW IT WORKS…dead organic matter is decomposed by bacteria via redox processes (RED = reduction; OX = oxidation).  The organic substrate is oxidized (looses electrons) & another molecule (i.e. oxygen in aerobic environments) is reduced (gains electrons).  Bacteria use the energy gained from these electron transfers, along with some carbon from the organic matter to produce more cells.  However, bacteria can reduce other molecules too – so the process can occur in many different environments (even those without oxygen or with extreme acidity, temperature etc).

In addition to the metabolic electrochemistry of bacteria, many other natural processes generate electricity in the ionosphere around planet Earth, within the mantle, in aquatic environments & the atmosphere.  Together, they combine to create telluric currents & electricity within soil.

Organic matter is decomposed by bacteria to produce new cells. During the process, electrons are released. [3]


  1. A zinc screw* acts as the negative anode to attract electrons generated by bacteria in the rhizosphere (root zone) &/or telluric currents.
  2. Electrons flow through the circuit to produce electricity.
  3. Copper wire* acts as the positive cathode & releases electrons back to the soil.

*other metals can be used for the anode & cathode.


To boost output…

…add more cathodes/anodes to create a series & join together as a single circuit. This will boost output by the number of electrodes added.


…add worms to increase organic matter & charged particles. This will boost output by 800% or more!

…organic fertilizers – mulch, manure, seaweed & other organic matter which has entered the degradation process. This will boost output by 45% or more!

…molasses & other soil tinctures – to feed the soil bacteria & increase their numbers. This will boost output by 38% or more!

(See: Using Soil Tinctures to = “Feed The Soil, Not The Plant”.)


  • Sustainable electricity generation.
  • Power monitoring equipment (ie. nutrient loading in blackwater system).
  • Power lighting (ie. driveway, attract insects over water to feed fish etc.)
  • Rapid recycling of used water (greywater & blackwater systems).
  • Degradation of pollutants (including phenol, petrol & oil).
  • Rapid growth of bacteria (conditions soil, compost booster).
  • Mitigation of methane (a strong greenhouse gas).
  • Mitigation of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas).
  • Production of water.
  • Evolution of oxygen.
  • Development of green technology & innovations.
  • Meet your needs!

Battery talk – using bacteria to GROW batteries…


     Ancient organisms have evolved to make exquisite nanostructures like shells and glassy diatoms.  Using directed evolution, the lab engineers organisms to grow and assemble novel hybrid organic-inorganic electronic, magnetic, and catalytic materials.  In doing so, the group capitalizes on many of the wonderful properties of biology – using only non-toxic materials, employing self-repair mechanisms, self-assembling precisely and over longer ranges, adapting & evolving to become better over time.  These materials have been used in applications as varied as solar cells, batteries, medical diagnostics and basic single molecule interactions related to disease.

Professor Angela Belcher (MIT, Department of Biological Engineering). [8]
  • Plant microbial fuel cell (PMFC).
  • Constructed wetland microbial fuel cells (CW-MFCs).
  • Earth generator / Ground battery.

Here’s an idea for you to try at home…

…just add wormfarm castings (packed with microbes generating power), water (to ensure the circuit connects) & your electrical device (ie. light, clock etc)! …voila!

Top terrarium plants (9):

  • Moss: Mosses are a common terrarium staple as they’re easy to find and easy to grow. Scottish and Irish moss are two popular, hardy choices.
  • Baby’s Tears: Also called Angel’s Tears, this plant is made up of tiny leaves that look great in a small scale. It grows abundantly which can be a problem in an outdoor garden, but it does well contained in a terrarium.
  • African Violet: This desirable, purple-blossomed plant can be difficult to grow in an open pot. They require a humid, warm environment. A terrarium makes it easy to provide both. Plant first in potting soil, then enclose the plant in a closed glass container.
  • Creeping Fig: A dwarf variety of this tree-like plant can look like a tiny forest inside your terrarium. Creeping figs will tolerate some shade and/or indirect light. They grow quickly, but can be pruned back with ease.
  • Spider Plant: Chlorophytum comosum is one of the easiest houseplants to grow. Spider plants have long, narrow leaves growing in rosettes and they like moist conditions. Also, some studies have shown that spider plant is among a group of plants that improve indoor air quality by absorbing harmful elements in the air.


Share your innovations in our Community Magazine.


  1. Inhabitat. 2009. Soil Powered Lamp: A Fresh Take on “Dirty Energy”. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 3 December 2019].
  2. FertilGold / Larry Cooper, with Rita Abi-Ghanem, PhD. 2018. Microorganisms: The Living Engine of Soil—Part 1. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 December 2019].
  3. National Academy of Sciences. 1993. In Situ Bioremediation : When Does It Work? [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 10 December 2019].
  4. Science Direct. 2019. Chapter 3.8 – Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell Technology. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 3 December 2019].
  5. YouTube / North Carolina Prepper. 2013. Make a simple Earth Battery. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 December 2019].
  6. 2013. More on Earth Batteries:Plans PDF. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 30 December 2019].
  7. You Tube / TED-Ed. 2013. Using nature to grow batteries – Angela Belcher. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 30 December 2019].
  8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (School of Engineering). 2019. Angela Belcher, PhD. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 30 December 2019].
  9. HGTV – Discovery, Inc.. 2022. Choosing Terrarium Plants (by Meagan Francis). [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 2 February 2022].

About The Author

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About The Author

Chrissy-Tiina Laurikainen

In person + online permaculture teacher. Online permaculture consultant. Upkeep of a 30 acre rural property (using permaculture & other agroecological techniques). A communal research laboratory focusing on free innovation in the works. Doing what I can to support LIFE on planet Earth!!

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