• 6 minutes Trump vs. MbS
  • 11 minutes Can the World Survive without Saudi Oil?
  • 15 minutes WTI @ $75.75, headed for $64 - 67
  • 14 hours US top CEO's are spending their own money on the midterm elections
  • 1 hour Satellite Moons to Replace Streetlamps?!
  • 5 mins The Balkans Are Coming Apart at the Seams Again
  • 11 hours EU to Splash Billions on Battery Factories
  • 20 mins U.S. Shale Oil Debt: Deep the Denial
  • 16 hours OPEC Is Struggling To Deliver On Increased Output Pledge
  • 8 mins The Dirt on Clean Electric Cars
  • 11 hours Uber IPO Proposals Value Company at $120 Billion
  • 14 hours A $2 Trillion Saudi Aramco IPO Keeps Getting Less Realistic
  • 2 hours 47 Oil & Gas Projects Expected to Start in SE Asia between 2018 & 2025
  • 22 hours Petrol versus EV
  • 17 hours U.N. About Climate Change: World Must Take 'Unprecedented' Steps To Avert Worst Effects
  • 18 hours 10 Incredible Facts about U.S. LNG
Lithium Is Yesterday’s News – Vanadium Is The Future

Lithium Is Yesterday’s News – Vanadium Is The Future

Scalable sustainable energy storage has…

High Prices Benefit Iran Despite Lost Oil Exports

High Prices Benefit Iran Despite Lost Oil Exports

Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahagiri…

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Damp

Charging your cell phone might one day be as easy as exposing it to humidity.

In 2013, Nenad Miljkovic, a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Evelyn Wang, an MIT associate professor, along with two other researchers learned that when drops of water bounce off superhydrophobic, or highly water-repellent, surfaces, they develop an electric charge.

More recently, they learned that this process can generate extremely small amounts of electricity that, if enhanced, could be used to charge cell phones and other electronic devices simply by using ambient humidity in the air.

According to their research, published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, such a device would be simple: layers of thin, flat metal sheets such as copper, though any conductive metal would work, including less-costly aluminum. The layers of metal alternate between those that attract water and those that repel it, causing the droplets to bounce back and forth, rapidly constantly generating electricity.

Yet early tests show the amount of electricity produced was a mere 15 picowatts, or 15 trillionths of a watt, per square centimeter of metal. But Miljkovic says this doesn’t make his team’s discovery a mere theoretical exercise. He says the system can be adjusted to generate at least 1 microwatt, or millionth of a watt, per square centimeter.

That’s comparable to what’s found in other devices that have been proposed for gathering waste heat and other sources of ambient energy. And, he says, it’s enough to provide useful power for small electronic gadgets in certain remote areas.

Related Article: Harvard Research Team has Breakthrough on Battery Storage

That’s good news if you’re camping by a river in the mountains. Miljkovic explains that at 1 microwatt per square centimeter, a 20-inch cube-shaped array of the metal layers would be enough to charge a cell phone in about 12 hours – slow, but acceptable given the locale.

But this scenario highlights another limitation of the MIT discovery: The air needed to cause the reaction must be more humid and cooler than the overall ambient air, such as a cave or a riverside.

Still, Miljkovic says for some small electronic devices, even a minuscule amount of energy should be capable of producing several hours of power, especially in areas with morning. “Water will condense out from the atmosphere, it happens naturally,” he says.

The key, Miljkovic explains, is temperature contrast, which causes humid air to condense. As an example, he cites a glass containing a cold beverage developing beads of condensation on a warm summer day. In other words, if you have a temperature differential, you have electricity.

By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com


x

Join the discussion | Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News