Scientists have worked out how to generate electricity from thin air | Tech News

Scientists have worked out how to generate electricity from thin air

Air-Gen’, the device developed by scientists at University of Massachusetts Amherst, is basically an air powered generator, which includes electrically conductive protein nanowires produced by the microbe Geobacter.

By: HT CORRESPONDENT
| Updated on: Aug 19 2022, 14:15 IST
Air-Gen can also generate power in areas with extremely low humidity, such as deserts.
Air-Gen can also generate power in areas with extremely low humidity, such as deserts. (University of Massachussets)

In what can truly be called a marvel of science, a new device has been developed that uses a natural protein in the air to generate electricity.

'Air-Gen', the device developed by scientists at University of Massachusetts Amherst, is basically an air powered generator, which includes electrically conductive protein nanowires produced by the microbe Geobacter. It connects electrodes to the protein nanowires in a way that the electrical current is generated from the moisture present in the atmosphere.

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The discovery could be very pertinent as the world is looking at renewable energy sources in the fight against climate change.

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The device has been created in the laboratories of microbiologist Derek Lovley and electrical engineer Jun Yao at the university. Yao said they are literally making electricity out of thin air. Air-Gen can also generate power in areas with extremely low humidity, such as deserts, they claimed. It has the ability to generate clean energy round the clock.

Lovley said it is the most amazing application of protein nanowires. He said Air-Gen has an upper hand over other sources of renewable energy like wind energy and solar energy as it does not require either sunlight or wind and can also work indoors.

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According to the Varsity website, the device only needs a thin film of protein nanowires which is less than 10 microns thick. Combination of the electrical conductivity and surface chemistry of the protein nanowires, along with the fine pores between the nanowires within the film, creates a condition that can generate an electrical current between the electrodes.

The eventual goal, Lovley said, is to make large-scale systems that will make a major contribution to sustainable energy production.

What's next? The scientists plan to work on an Air-Gen patch which will power smartwatches and fitness bands and end the dependence on batteries. There is a larger idea to develop Air-Gen for mobile phones too.

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First Published Date: 20 Feb, 08:46 IST
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