The Air-gen Device that Converts Humidity into Energy

The Air-gen device converts air humidity into a vast, sustainable reservoir of energy that is continuously available.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Air-gen device converts air humidity into a vast, sustainable reservoir of energy that is continuously available. Image: Pixabay

Reading Time: 2 minutes

What if it were possible to create energy out of air? A purely sustainable and renewable source of energy that wouldn’t require towers or panels. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed just that. It turns out that air humidity is a vast, sustainable reservoir of energy that is continuously available. The researchers claim that just about any surface can be turned into a generator by replicating the electrical properties of storm clouds. A storm cloud is a mass of water droplets, all of which contain a charge. When the conditions are right, the cloud can produce a lightning bolt. The researchers have used similar properties to build a small-scale cloud that can produce electricity predictably and continuously.

So how does it work? Their air generator (Air-gen) relies on microscopic holes smaller than 100 nanometres (even more minuscule than a strand of a human hair). The small diameter of these holes is called a “mean free path”, which is the distance a single molecule can travel before it collides with another molecule of the same substance.

Water molecules float all around the air, and their mean free path is around 100 nanometres. As the humid air passes through Air-gen’s minuscule holes, the water molecules will directly contact an upper and lower chamber in the film. Because each pore is so small, the water molecules would easily bump into the pore’s edge as they pass through the thin layer. This interaction creates a charge imbalance and results in electricity.

The researchers claim that their product could offer kilowatts of power for general usage as long as there is any humidity in the air. Their Air-gen device could be more space efficient and blend into the environment compared to other renewable energy options such as solar and wind power. Moreover, humidity exists at all hours of the day and night, rain or shine, to provide non-stop energy.

The researchers also claim that harvesting the air and water droplets could be designed from all kinds of materials, which offers many opportunities for cost-effective and environment-adaptable designs. The Air-gen device is so small that thousands of them could be stacked on top of each other, increasing the amount of energy it gives off without increasing the environmental footprint of the device.

This device stems from the researcher’s previous inventions of generating an electric current using moisture in the air using a microbe called Geobacter. Their device produced a sustained voltage of about 0.5 volts for about 20 hours and could light up small LED bulbs. However, they couldn’t get the microbe to create enough nanowires (the small holes that generate the electric charge) to scale up the technology further.

Their new Air-gen device has never been discovered before, and it opens up many possibilities for effectively using renewable resources to create energy. It’s incredible to think we could harvest energy from the air around us. This discovery and invention could be scaled up. They could make renewable energy more accessible to people around the world. They could reduce the negative environmental impact we see with some existing forms of renewable energy (solar panels or wind turbines).

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