Scientists have developed a generator with electrically conductive protein nanowires that generates an electric current from moisture in the air naturally present in the atmosphere.
Existing types of renewable energy require sunlight, wind or waves to operate. However, a team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst has come up with a completely new, versatile option that is not needs special conditions, can work around the clock and even indoors.
Scientists have developed the Air-gen device, the main element of which is a thin film of protein nanowires less than 10 microns thick, placed on an electrode. In this case, another smaller electrode is located above it, covering only part of the surface. The film adsorbs water vapor from the atmosphere, and due to the combination of electrical conductivity, the chemical composition of the surface of nanowires and small pores between them, conditions are created for the generation of an electric current between two electrodes.
According to the developers, the current version of the Air-gen is capable of powering small electronics and can generate electricity even in extremely low humidity areas such as the Sahara Desert. In the future, they plan to create a small generator that can provide power to wearable gadgets or even mobile phones.
In the future, they hope to design large-scale systems for industry and adapt technology for use as impurities for paint. So far, development has been constrained by the slow production of nanowires by Geobacter bacteria. However, the team recently developed a new strain of microorganisms, effectively turning them into a factory for the production of the desired protein..
To combat climate change, researchers aim to extract energy from various natural factors. Last year scientists have created a device that generates electricity from falling snow.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: BigStock
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