Scientists figure out way to make electricity from atmospheric humidity

Posted on Wednesday, Feb 19 2020 @ 18:58 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst have managed to generate electricity "out of thin air." This isn't some new kind of perpetuum mobile or zero point energy, but a way to use protein nanowires to produce electricity from the water vapor naturally present in the atmosphere. The hydrovoltaic device can generate only a little bit of electricity though, the paper mentions it can produce about 0.05W/m². Perhaps further research can increase this figure to more interesting numbers.
As reported today in Nature, the laboratories of electrical engineer Jun Yao and microbiologist Derek Lovley at UMass Amherst have created a device they call an “Air-gen.” or air-powered generator, with electrically conductive protein nanowires produced by the microbe Geobacter. The Air-gen connects electrodes to the protein nanowires in such a way that electrical current is generated from the water vapor naturally present in the atmosphere.

“We are literally making electricity out of thin air,” says Yao. “The Air-gen generates clean energy 24/7.” Lovely, who has advanced sustainable biology-based electronic materials over three decades, adds, “It’s the most amazing and exciting application of protein nanowires yet.”

The new technology developed in Yao’s lab is non-polluting, renewable and low-cost. It can generate power even in areas with extremely low humidity such as the Sahara Desert. It has significant advantages over other forms of renewable energy including solar and wind, Lovley says, because unlike these other renewable energy sources, the Air-gen does not require sunlight or wind, and “it even works indoors.”
Further details over here.

protein nanowires generating electricity from atmospheric humidity

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Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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