“You can imagine what we’ve invented is like a small artificial cloud,” said Jun Yao, an engineering professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and lead author of the study. Stated. “This is actually a huge power source that is very easily accessible and can continuously deliver clean power. Imagine having clean electricity available everywhere.”
This could include hiking in forests, mountains, deserts, rural villages, or roads.
Air-powered generators, known as ‘Air-gen’, use energy from the ever-present humidity rather than relying on the sun or wind, thus providing clean electricity continuously. Unlike solar panels and wind turbines, which require a specific environment, air generators could potentially be installed anywhere, Yao said.
But low humidity means less energy can be harvested, he added. Due to the dry air in winter, less power is generated than in summer.
The device, about the size of a fingernail and thinner than a hair, is dotted with tiny holes known as nanopores. The diameter of the hole is less than 100 nanometers, or less than 1,000 times less than the width of a human hair.
Small holes allow moisture in the air to pass through, creating a charging imbalance between the top and bottom of the device, effectively forming a continuously running battery.
“We are opening a huge door for harvesting clean electricity from thin air,” said Xiaomen Liu, another author and a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a statement.
One prototype, due to its size, produces only a small amount of energy (roughly enough to power a point of light on a large screen), while the air generator has an air space between Yao said they can be stacked on top of each other, if there is one. . Storing electricity is another matter, he added.
Yao says that about a billion Air-gens, stacked roughly the size of a refrigerator, could generate 1 kilowatt under ideal conditions, partially powering a home. I’m guessing. The team hopes to reduce both the number of devices required and the space they occupy by making the tool more efficient. It can be difficult to do.
Scientists first have to figure out which materials are most efficient to use in different climates. Ultimately, Yao said, he hopes to develop a strategy to make the device larger without blocking the moisture it can trap.he wants to do it too Find out how to stack devices effectively and how to design Air-gen to capture more energy in the same size device.
It’s unclear how long that will take.
“If you optimize this, you can put it anywhere,” says Yao.
They can be embedded in the wall paint of your home, created on a large scale in unused spaces in the city, or scattered around hard-to-reach spaces in your office. Also, since almost any material can be used, less can be harvested from the environment. than any other renewable energy.
“The whole planet is covered with a thick layer of moisture,” says Yao. “It’s a huge source of clean energy. This is just the beginning of harnessing it.”