Scientists Invent Device Producing Electricity from Moisture in Air

Scientists from the University of Massachusetts have invented the Air-gen, a device that continuously produces electricity from the moisture in the air. Looking to become a greener solution than fossil fuel, the new “air generator” uses materials with microscopic holes that allow the extraction of electricity from drops of water in the air. According to an article published in the Advanced Materials journal, this innovative technology can play an important role in fighting climate change.

Previous attempts to use electrical charges from water drops to create energy required expensive equipment or only worked for a limited time. However, the Air-gen produces electricity by coming into contact with water droplets passing through its porous material. The device creates a “spontaneous and stable charging gradient for the continuous release of electricity,” the article states. This opens up a world of opportunities for studying the sustainable receipt of electricity from air.

June Yao, Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at Umhass Ameherst and senior author of the article, said, “Once we can receive pure electricity literally anywhere and at any time using Air-Gen technology (that is, the concept of ‘ubiquitous power’), because air humidity is around the clock and everywhere.”

It turns out that almost any material can become an Air-Gen device if it has holes smaller than 100 nanometers. The holes are large enough to pass water through, yet still small enough for drops to contact with the material, creating a potential difference in the device as the drops increase the charge of the upper layer.

The Air-gen has the ability to generate energy equivalent to several hundred millivolts throughout the week, significantly outlasting other previous air-gen technology concepts. Its material versatility opens up the possibilities for scaling up for commercial or industrial needs.

The researchers said, “Since air-humidity is universal and continuous 24/7, Air-gen can be deployed in almost any place for continuous energy collection, overcoming the period or frequency of existing generators limited by time or location.” The researchers believe, “Air-gen sustainable technology has promising possibilities” and is expected to be a “possible ‘green’ energy technology for the future.”

/Reports, release notes, official announcements.