Team:TU Darmstadt/Project/Overview


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Figure 1: Flowchart of our project

Access to electricity is especially in rural areas in Africa a major issue. Even a few additional hours of electrical power and lighting have massive positive effects on commerce, health, education and household net income. Two of the eight UN millennium goals (eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education) are therefore directly linked to the electrification of poor regions and many other millennium goals can be reached indirectly.

Our off-the-grid approach will contribute to the fight against poverty by producing electricity with dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC or Grätzel cells) and bringing cheap renewable energy to rural areas.

We produced the main component of our Grätzel cell, the red anthocyanidin dye pelargonidin, efficiently in E. coli by applying different means of metabolic engineering. We provided the iGEM registry with an improved version of a protein scaffold so every team can easily improve their metabolic channeling of their own biosynthetic pathway. Furthermore we modelled and cloned a mutated version of the anthocyanidin synthase, a central enzyme for flavonoid production, to have a more accessible substrate pocket.

During the course of our project we developed several open hardware devices for our Grätzel cells and a cheap agarose gel chamber. We made the 3D-printer files and detailed instructions for the construction of our devices publicly available on our Wiki.

Last, but not least we collaborated with the Synenergene project to take our Policy & Practices project to the next level. We developed an application scenario as realistic as possible and examined possible unwanted effects of our project in a techno-morale vignette. Based on our findings we even adopted our biosynthetic pathway.

Figure 2: Plants produce anthocyanins