Light Up Latro Algae Pet Looks Like Beaker Of Green Goo

We all remember from high school biology that plants use sunshine and CO2 to generate energy through photosynthesis, right? An outrageous new prototype lamp from designer Mike Thompson actually generates electricity from algae the same way, in the form of lighting that requires a bit of daily maintenance, not unlike a bonsai plant or a pet.

The Latro (which comes to us by way of Treehugger) requires sun, which can be provided by leaving the device (which really looks more like a huge beaker full of green goo than an actual lamp) outside during the day–or presumably, in a sunny window. While the algae is photosynthesizing away, it will also be charging up a battery, which then releases light, according to the designer “within the hours of darkness” (we assume automatically).


image via Treehugger

You won’t have to worry about your light-up algae “pet” getting malnourished, as a light sensor monitors light intensity, only permitting the leeching of electrons when the lux level passes the threshold–but you will have to remember to breathe…into the handle, that is, providing your little green friend with CO2 (the side spout allows for the addition of water when it dries out and release of oxygen as the algae respires). Considering how dependent we humans have become on electricity, and how much C02 we produce, one can only regard this as a symbiotic relationship.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.


  • Reply February 16, 2013

    Scott Robinson

    Fantastic !!!
    Well done.

  • Reply February 16, 2013

    Nicholas G.

    Use me as your guinea pig, i’ll put one in my house and even log my daily observations like a scientist.

  • Reply February 16, 2013

    Lloyd T J Evans

    I second that. I actually am a scientist, and I would love to have a few of these in my place to monitor. I have a big south facing bay window, two floors above ground level, which gets more than enough light. I grow tomatoes and herb plants inside, which works very well as the window is like a greenhouse, only double-glazed.
    I would definitely record daily statistics, such as how much water it consumed, how many times per day I breathed into it, when the light switched on (and off) and hence how long it lasted, even what voltage the battery had been charged up to at the end of each day.

  • Reply February 16, 2013

    Laura Johnson

    WoW…. how can i get one……. ;-))

  • Reply February 17, 2013

    Don Bush

    I would think if you put in an airreator like in a fish tank. It would pull out CO2 form your home and add back the oxygen to the indoor air. If you put in a float and hooked up to a water scoure. This would keep the water at same level. It would also seem that size and shape could be made for any sunny area in the home. Just a thought.

  • Reply February 23, 2013

    Christian Lindenau

    Is this device producing energy in form of heat?
    If so, one could increase its effeciency by applying a sterling engine which serves the purpose of a pump to supply the algea with CO2

  • Reply February 24, 2013

    Marcia Salmond

    I like this lamp its quite lovely why do they never say how much and where, well it would be an inbuilt market survey…love those helps with bank loans and all the paper work.

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