The new green technology generates electricity literally from the air. About this writes Phys.org with reference to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the journal Nature.
Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a device that uses natural protein to generate electricity from moisture in the air. They say the new technology could have significant implications for renewable energy, climate change and medicine in the future.
It is reported that electronics engineer Jun Yao and microbiologist Derek Lovley from the University of Massachusetts Amherst created a device called Air-gen. It is described as a pneumatic generator with electrically conductive “protein nanowires” between two plates. The process also involves soil bacteria Geobacter, which uses electricity to oxidize and recycle organic substances and produce current-conducting “nanowires” from protein molecules to create a directional movement of electrons.
The device connects the electrodes to the nanowires in such a way that an electric current is generated by water vapor that is present in the atmosphere.
“We literally produce electricity from the air,” Yao says. “Air-gen generates clean energy 24 hours a day.”
The new technology developed in the Yao laboratory is environmentally friendly, renewable and inexpensive. It can generate electricity even in areas with extremely low humidity, such as the Sahara desert. In addition, the Air-gen does not require sunlight or wind and “works even indoors.”
The researchers explain that the Air-gen device only requires a thin film of nanowires less than 10 microns thick. Water condenses on the upper side of the device and interacts with proteins. Their conductive and surface properties cause water to decompose into charged ions. Charges accumulate, creating a potential difference and causing a directional movement of free electrons, that is, a current.
Researchers created a prototype of a continuously produced literally out of thin air in the order of 0.5 V. Approximately 17 of these prototypes could be powered mobile phones.