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Scientists generate electric current from moisture in the air


Scientists generate electric current from moisture in the air

Unfortunately, climate change is a consolidated phenomenon that scares many people, therefore we are trying to find new strategies to pollute the environment less. Precisely with regard to this, a group of scientists has come up with a device that creates electricity “Out of thin air” using water vapor and could replace rechargeable batteries in phones and smartwatches, the developers say.

The device “Air Gen” it contains tiny protein strands that generate electricity by extracting moisture from the atmosphere. The device connects the electrodes to the protein nanowires produced by a type of bacterium called geobacter: they are non-polluting, renewable and low cost. It could therefore become a source of renewable energy and help against global warming.

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Scientists create the “Air Gen” device

The hot air produced by global warming tends to contain more vapor, making the device fit for a future negatively impacted by climate change. “We are literally making electricity out of thin air,” said the electrical engineer Jun Yao of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “The Air Gen generates clean energy 24/7.”

It can generate power even in areas with low humidity such as the Sahara Desert and can power small electronic devices, the researchers say. “It is the most surprising and exciting application of protein nanowires,” said the microbiologist Derek Lovley.

Air Gen requires no sunlight or wind, giving it an edge over other renewable energy sources like solar and wind. It needs a thin film of protein nanowires, less than 10 microns thick, or one thousandth of a millimeter, produced by bacteria. At the bottom of this nanowire film is an electrode, while a smaller electrode covering only part of the film is at the top. The very fine pores between the nanowires establish the conditions which therefore generate an electric current between the two electrodes.