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).

Latro-algae-breathe-lamp
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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