In a groundbreaking discovery, a recent study published in the journal Advanced Material has revealed that the humidity in the air could serve as a pollution-free and sustainable reservoir of energy, offering a continuous source of electricity.
The study highlights that unlike solar and wind energy, which are intermittent, air humidity is continuously available, making it an exciting prospect for generating clean electricity. Xiaomeng Liu, a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the lead author of the study, expressed enthusiasm, stating, “We are opening up a wide door for harvesting clean electricity from thin air.”
Researchers suggest that almost any material has the potential to be transformed into a device that can generate power from air humidity. The immense amount of electricity present in the air forms the basis of the “air-gen” effect, which powers the air-powered generator, described as a human-built, small-scale cloud that predictably and continuously produces electricity.
The study further explains the development of a device that can draw energy from humidity using materials such as silicon or wood. This device, which is as small as a fingernail and thinner than a single hair, features nanopores—tiny holes that enable the energy extraction process. With humidity being omnipresent, the harvester can operate 24/7, eliminating the reliance on wind or solar technologies, regardless of weather conditions.
Jun Yao, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the senior author of the study, believes that about one billion air-gens, when stacked to the size of a refrigerator, could produce a kilowatt of power, partly supplying electricity to a home under ideal conditions. This innovation opens up the possibility of sustainable electricity generated from the air.
Yao envisions a future world where clean electricity is available anywhere, thanks to the generic air-gen effect. The potential of harnessing electricity from air holds great promise for achieving a sustainable energy future.