“Generating Power from the Moisture in the Air”…Changing the World
A device that generates clean energy from moisture in the air has been developed in the United States.
According to the Washington Post (WP안전놀이터), a team led by engineering professor Jun Yao of the University of Massachusetts Amherst has found a way to continuously generate energy from the ubiquitous moisture in the air, according to a paper published in Advanced Materials.
Yao explained that the air-powered generator, called Air-gen, can be used to generate clean energy from almost any material, anywhere.
The core of Air-gen is a thin layer of holes smaller than 100 nanometers (nanometers), about one-thousandth the thickness of a human hair, and when moisture in the air passes through these holes, power is generated.
The holes are so small that when water molecules in the air move from the top to the bottom of the material, they hit the edges of the holes and create an electrical charge. This results in more charged water molecules at the top of the layer than at the bottom, creating a charge imbalance that generates lightning in clouds.
“You can imagine that what we have invented is a small artificial cloud,” says Yao, explaining that it is like a battery that is constantly working.
The researchers emphasized that any material, such as wood or silicon, can be turned into an electricity-generating device if it can be crushed into tiny particles or reprocessed with microscopic pores.
While conventional clean energy sources such as solar and wind require specific environments and devices, Airgen can generate energy continuously anywhere because it utilizes the ever-present moisture.
“It’s really too easy to access a huge sustainable source of clean energy,” Yao said, noting that clean power can be generated in forests, mountaintops, roads, rural areas, and deserts.
While a single Airgen is so small that it only generates enough electricity to fill a single point of light on a large screen, Airgens can be stacked to grow in size. Yao explained that more than a billion of them could be stacked in a stack about the size of a refrigerator to generate 1 kilowatt of power.
The challenge is to reduce the size of the device’s footprint and develop ways to store the electricity it generates.
“The entire planet is covered in moisture,” Yao said, “and if we optimize this device, it can be deployed anywhere.”