Humidity advancement could be a limitless source of clean energy
Of course we all complain about the humidity on a muggy summer day. However, according to a new study, the same level of humidity could be a source of clean, pollution-free energy.
“Humidity is a vast, sustainable reservoir of energy that, unlike the sun and wind, is continuously available,” says the study, recently published in the journal Advanced Materials.
“This is very exciting,” said Xiaomeng Liu, a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and lead author of the study. “We are opening a wide gateway to harvesting clean electricity from the air.”
In fact, researchers say nearly any material can be turned into a device that continuously harvests electricity from moisture in the air.
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Air “contains an enormous amount of electricity”
“The air contains enormous amounts of electricity,” said Jun Yao, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the study’s senior author. “Imagine a cloud that is nothing more than a mass of water droplets. Each of these droplets contains a charge, and if the conditions are right, the cloud can produce lightning — but we don’t know how to reliably harvest electricity from lightning.
“What we’ve done is create a man-made, small cloud that predictably and continuously produces electricity for us to harvest.”
The heart of the artificial cloud depends on what Yao and his colleagues call an air-powered generator, or the “air-gen” effect for short.
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“Significant implications for the future of renewable energy”
The new study builds on research from a study published in 2020. This year, scientists said this new technology “could have significant implications for the future of renewable energy, climate change and the future of medicine.” This study showed that energy could be harvested from moisture by material derived from bacteria; The new study comes to the conclusion that almost any material, such as silicon or wood, could be used.
The device mentioned in the study is the size of a fingernail and thinner than a single hair, and is riddled with tiny holes called nanopores, the Washington Post reported. “The holes are less than 100 nanometers in diameter, or less than one-thousandth the width of a strand of human hair,” the Post said.
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Energy from the air could be harvested 24 hours a day, rain or shine, day or night
In addition, according to a statement from the university, the harvester would run 24/7 regardless of whether the wind was blowing or not, since humidity is constantly present, regardless of whether it rains or shines. This solves one of the biggest problems with technologies like wind or solar, which only work under certain conditions.
“The work opens a great door for the comprehensive exploration of sustainable electricity from the air,” the study states.
Yao told the Washington Post that under ideal conditions, about a billion air generators, about the size of a refrigerator, could generate a kilowatt and partially power a home.
“Imagine a future world where clean electricity is available everywhere,” Yao said. “The generic Air-Gen effect means that this future world can become a reality.”