Scientists have devised a method of generating electricity just from the air around us, rather than needing wind turbines.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have invented a gadget that generates power from humidity and moisture in the air around the world using a natural protein. They claim that the new technology has the potential to revolutionize the face of renewable energy, slowing climate change by using less fossil fuels.
Microbes create small electrically conductive wires called protein nanowire, which are used in the ‘Air-gen’ or air-powered generator. The generator links electrodes to nanowires, allowing power to be created from atmospheric water vapour.
“We’re actually producing energy out of thin air,” says Jun Yao, an electrical engineer who worked on the project with microbiologist Derek Lovley. “The Air-gen produces clean energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Yao’s lab has invented a new technology that is non-polluting, renewable, and low-cost. The Air-gen, according to the creators, can create electricity even in locations with extremely low humidity, such as the Sahara Desert, and has benefits over solar and wind energy because it does not require sunshine or wind to operate, even while functioning indoors.
The ultimate objective, according to Yao, is to create large-scale systems. “For instance, the technology may be embedded into wall paint to assist with the powering of your home.” Alternatively, we may construct self-contained air-powered generators to provide electricity off the grid.
I am confident that if wire production reaches an industrial size, we will be able to build big systems that will contribute significantly to sustainable energy generation.”