New device, Air-gen, generates clean energy from moisture in the air

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a new technology that allows them to generate clean energy literally out of thin air. The device is called Air-gen, and it can generate electricity from the moisture that is present in the air around it.

We are literally making electricity out of thin air. The Air-gen generates clean energy 24/7.

Jun Yao, Amherst electrical engineer, in university press release

How does Air-gen work?

The breakthrough technology is a unique combination of technology and biology. Derek Lovely, the coauthor of the study, said that he found a microbe called Geobacter and realized it has the potential to produce protein nanowires. These nanowires are capable of conducting electricity. A thin film of these protein nanowires, just 10 microns thick, rests on an electrode, while a smaller electrode lies on top of a small portion of the film. The film can then absorb water vapor from the air around it and produce electricity between the electrodes, due to the conductivity and surface chemistry of the nanowires.

Lovely says that Air-gen has significant advantages over other sources of renewable energy “because unlike these other renewable energy sources, the Air-gen does not require sunlight or wind, and “it even works indoors.”

The current Air-gen device can power small devices. | Image: UMass Amherst/Yao and Lovley labs.

Commercial application of Air-gen

The researchers say that in its current form, Air-gen can only power small electronics. However, they plan on bringing the technology to a commercial scale soon. One of the steps they will be taking is making small “patches” of Air-gen, which can be used to power small electronics such as smartwatches, phones, fitness monitors, etc.

Jun Yao has already planned out how a large-scale implementation of the Air-gen might be like. He says, “The ultimate goal is to make large-scale systems. For example, the technology might be incorporated into wall paint that could help power your home. Or, we may develop stand-alone air-powered generators that supply electricity off the grid. Once we get to an industrial scale for wire production, I fully expect that we can make large systems that will make a major contribution to sustainable energy production.”

Yao also says that Air-gen is just the beginning of a series of technology that could be developed with protein nanowires. His laboratory has developed other applications based on Geobacter, or maybe other nanowire producing microbes. “This is just the beginning of new era of protein-based electronic devices.”

Source: UMass Amherst

Join our writing team and develop your writing skills, as you see your articles featured on Apple NewsGoogle News, and all around the worldSubscribe to our newsletter, What Just Happened, where we dive deep into the hottest topics from the week!

More from Science – News Landed

+ Modern-day human genes contain evidence of ancient humans and Neanderthals

+ Mysterious jellyfish can sting you without contact using mucus capsules

Popular Stories – News Landed

+ Poor sleep can lead to compromised diets in women, new study shows

+ WWE NXT TakeOver: Portland 2020 Review

Related Stories

Hydrogen from algae – A big step towards green energy generation green

Hydrogen gas is one of the heavily used industrial fuels and since being climate-neutral offers exciting new possibilities as...

Solar Energy: The light to Africa

Africa's dependance on hydro power energy has lead to almost 1/3 of the continents load shedding. Africa, in the...

Featured Stories

Will Telosa be the “City of the Future” by 2030?

Shenzhen, China was a sleepy fishing village in 1979. A mere forty years later, it is one of the...

Low-cost lead adsorbing water filter designed by Indian students

Two students from India have designed a low-cost lead water filter that can be made with locally sourced materials....

Make it Rain! Dubai uses drones to conjure rain from the skies

You can order food, hail a driver, and even find a spouse with the click of a button; but...

Physicists have created the world’s thinnest magnet. Just one atom thick!

Can you guess the size of the thinnest magnet? It is just one atom thick. Scientists from the University of...

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak reverse decision to avoid self-isolation following ping by NHS contact tracing

Following the Health Secretary's diagnosis with COVID-19, the Prime Minister and Chancellor were notified by NHS Test and Trace...

India is one of the largest producers of COVID vaccine and yet faces major internal shortages

The worsening situation in India finally gained some stabilization around September 2020. Usually, when things start getting better, people...