A new technology that can extract clean energy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from 'humidity' in the air based on the principle of lightning

A research team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst announced a technology that can obtain power from the charge of water molecules in the air in a paper published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Advanced Materials in May 2023.

Generic Air‐Gen Effect in Nanoporous Materials for Sustainable Energy Harvesting from Air Humidity - Liu - Advanced Materials - Wiley Online Library


Engineers at UMass Amherst Harvest Abundant Clean Energy from Thin Air, 24/7 : UMass Amherst

“Air contains an enormous amount of electricity,” says Jun Yao, who teaches electrical and computer engineering in the engineering department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Regarding the technology announced this time, Mr. Yao said, ``Imagine a cloud that is just a mass of water droplets. We don't know how to get it, but we've made it possible to reliably and continuously generate and harvest power from tiny human-made clouds.'

Yao et al.'s 'generic Air-gen effect' builds on a 2020

study using Geobacter sulfurreducens , a bacterium capable of producing electricity. In this study, Yao et al. showed that energy could be harvested from the air by using a special material made of protein nanowires from Geobacter sulfurreducens.

Yao, who was further researching the phenomenon, then simply called the 'Air-gen effect,' found that almost anything, not just a special material derived from bacteria, could be used if it possessed certain properties. We have found that the substance can produce the Airgen effect. Its characteristic is that it has holes smaller than 100 nanometers, that is, holes less than 1/1000th the thickness of a human hair.

The size of this 100 nanometer hole is derived from the fact that the mean free path, which is the distance traveled by water molecules in the air without colliding with other molecules, is about 100 nanometers.

When air touches a thin material with small holes, water molecules pass through the holes from top to bottom of the material. However, if the hole is a nanopore of 100 nm or less, water molecules are more likely to hit the edge of the hole. As a result, more charged water molecules gather in the upper part of the material than in the lower part, creating an imbalance like a thundercloud. By using this, it is the principle of the 'generic Airgen effect' proposed by the research team this time that energy is obtained by using air containing humidity as if it were a battery.

Existing solar power generation and wind power generation that produce clean energy have the drawback that they cannot be used on rainy days or in areas where the wind does not blow. However, since humidity is present in the air in any region and in any weather, harvesters (harvesters) using various materials can be installed around the world to harvest energy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“The idea is simple, yet undiscovered, and has many possibilities,” Yao said. I hope you can imagine it,' he said.

In addition, since the humidity in the air diffuses in three dimensions and the nanopore thin film is only a fraction of the thickness of a human hair, stacking thousands of layers does not increase the installation area of the harvester. You can scale up efficiently. As a result, it is possible to generate power in kilowatts used in general electric business.

Regarding the prospects for this technology, Yao said, ``Imagine a future world where clean electricity can be used anywhere.The versatility of the generic Airgen effect means that such a future world can be realized. '' he said.

in Science, Posted by log1l_ks