Scientists develop low-cost solution that generates electricity from air

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

The device, coined the “Air-gen,” traces its roots back more than three decades to the muddy shores of the Potomac River. There, scientists discovered an unusual microbe belonging to the Geobacter genus that, among other things, could produce magnetite without oxygen.

While experimenting with the material, electrical engineer Jun Yao discovered – almost by accident – that when the nanowires were contacted with electrodes in a specific way, they generated a current.

“I found that exposure to atmospheric humidity was essential and that protein nanowires adsorbed water, producing a voltage gradient across the device,” the scientist said.

Current iterations generate a sustained voltage of around 0.5 volts, ScienceAlert notes, but the team said multiple devices could be used together to generate enough power to charge small electronics like smartphones. Best yet, the tech is renewable, non-polluting, low-cost and even works in areas with low humidity like in the desert. Unlike other renewable sources of energy such as solar or wind, it even works indoors.

The team ultimately wants to develop large-scale systems capable of supplying electricity off the grid. It may even be possible to incorporate it into wall paint to help power your home.

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tkabou

TS Addict
Ultimately, it's this type of stuff that'll "save" the planet.

Not some fantasy global warming hypothesis and the elites flying around the world virtue-signalling for billions of taxpayer money and siphoning them off into useless ventures, foundations, and fly-by-night prop-companies.

Bacteria that produce electricity from air, enzymes that digest ocean plastics and oil spills, etc.
 
bUltimately, it's this type of stuff that'll "save" the planet.

Not some fantasy global warming hypothesis and the elites flying around the world virtue-signalling for billions of taxpayer money and siphoning them off into useless ventures, foundations, and fly-by-night prop-companies.

Bacteria that produce electricity from air, enzymes that digest ocean plastics and oil spills, etc.
The fantasy is thinking germs on plastic gel will ever produce practical amounts of electricity.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
@CharmsD To add more weight to @Shawn Knight 's article - https://phys.org/news/2020-02-green-technology-electricity-thin-air.html
"We are literally making electricity out of thin air," says Yao. "The Air-gen generates clean energy 24/7." Lovely, who has advanced sustainable biology-based electronic materials over three decades, adds, "It's the most amazing and exciting application of protein nanowires yet."
Emphasis mine.
The new technology developed in Yao's lab is non-polluting, renewable and low-cost. It can generate power even in areas with extremely low humidity such as the Sahara Desert. It has significant advantages over other forms of renewable energy including solar and wind, Lovley says, because unlike these other renewable energy sources, the Air-gen does not require sunlight or wind, and "it even works indoors."
And finally:
The researchers say that the current generation of Air-gen devices are able to power small electronics, and they expect to bring the invention to commercial scale soon.
Emphasis mine. Let's hope the bit about commercialization comes to pass.
 

Evernessince

地獄らしい人間動物園
Ultimately, it's this type of stuff that'll "save" the planet.

Not some fantasy global warming hypothesis and the elites flying around the world virtue-signalling for billions of taxpayer money and siphoning them off into useless ventures, foundations, and fly-by-night prop-companies.

Bacteria that produce electricity from air, enzymes that digest ocean plastics and oil spills, etc.
This comment is a paradox. In order to fund "this type of stuff that'll save the planet", you need to raise awareness and research how to tackle the problem, both of which you criticize.

If you have problems with how your representatives are spending your money, that's on YOU for voting poorly or not at all.

No one said it had to be "elites" raising awareness either (although I wouldn't consider Greta Thunberg an elite by any measure). There are plenty of regular people spreading the message as well.

If you spend any amount of time on TechSpot there's seemingly a tech that will "save the world" at least once a week. A majority of them are from colleges or government funded programs. Of course, there could be a lot more if the government would be willing to subsidize research more instead throwing money at big business.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Commercialization of all these techs is the pipe dream, always 5 to 10 years away. I hope this one turns out differently.
Yes, I have heard of many such devices like a 99% efficient peltier device a few years back that I never heard anything more about.😖

As I see it, it will help that they already have devices that can power small electronics. With any luck, it will make it to market.

I does sound like no one will need to blow over it to get it to work - if it does make it to market. ;)
 
Commercialization of all these techs is the pipe dream, always 5 to 10 years away. I hope this one turns out differently.
A research and publish company (from another land) pumps out 1-2 "new storage technology" papers a day. Each of them are promising to be the next big thing, few people outside INTERESTED MEDIA have ever heard of their work.

New "energy" tech is bordering on the volume of over-parity devices the USPTO gets patent apps for.
 

Dimitrios

TS Guru
A lot of great inventions come from Massachusetts oddly....................... I guess they have a lot of Matt Damon's!

"How do you like them apples?"
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Oh it already has! Read on skeptical friend.

Woops, forgot - MudWatt: Grow a Living Fuel Cell $39.99


https://www.magicalmicrobes.com/pages/how-mudwatt-works yellow text /mine Lol
Interesting even if the principle is different. It sounds like the microbes need to have a source of nutrients.
Studying and doing research in the benthic layer for a Phd in marine biology does not a genius make.
I contemplated oceanography a long time ago...
A lot of great inventions come from Massachusetts oddly....................... I guess they have a lot of Matt Damon's!

"How do you like them apples?"
It is the home of MIT, Harvard, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, to name some of the more well-known institutions, you know - places where learning and education is valued.

There are those out there that think getting rid of higher education would save America - https://www.foxnews.com/politics/tennessee-gop-senator-says-getting-rid-of-higher-education-would-save-america

If you fall into that category, you better get rid of your computer - it was invented by people with higher education backgrounds. :laughing:
 
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Interesting even if the principle is different. It sounds like the microbes need to have a source of nutrients.

I contemplated oceanography a long time ago...

It is the home of MIT, Harvard, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, to name some of the more well-known institutions, you know - places where learning and education is valued.

There are those out there that think getting rid of higher education would save America - https://www.foxnews.com/politics/tennessee-gop-senator-says-getting-rid-of-higher-education-would-save-america

If you fall into that category, you better get rid of your computer - it was invented by people with higher education backgrounds. :laughing:
You mean the apple inventors?
Steve Wozniak BS in Engineering 1987...say when was the apple invented?
Steve Jobs primarily designed the plastic case.

Perhaps you mean the operating systems by Tim Patterson, DOS and the Apple II?

Or maybe 'higher education' just means something different to you.
 
This is notable, UC Berkley.

As of October 2019, Berkeley alumni, faculty members and researchers include 107 Nobel laureates, the third most of any university worldwide, as well as 25 Turing Award winners, and 14 Fields Medalists. They have also won 19 Wolf Prizes, 45 MacArthur Fellowships.
20 Academy Awards, 19 Pulitzer Prizes, and 207 Olympic medals.

In 1930, Ernest Lawrence invented the cyclotron at Berkeley, based on which UC Berkeley researchers along with Berkeley Lab have discovered or co-discovered 16 chemical elements – more than any other university.

During the 1940s, Berkeley physicist J. R. Oppenheimer, the "Father of the Atomic Bomb", led the Manhattan project to create the first atomic bomb. In the 1960s, Berkeley was particularly noted for the Free Speech Movement as well as the anti–Vietnam War movement led by its students.

In the 21st century, Berkeley has become one of the leading universities in producing entrepreneurs and its alumni have founded or co-founded many companies worldwide, including five classified as Fortune 500 Companies as of 2017.

MIT.
As of October 2019, 96 Nobel laureates, 26 Turing Award winners, and 8 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT as alumni, faculty members, or researchers.

In addition, 58 National Medal of Science recipients, 29 National Medals of Technology and Innovation recipients, 50 MacArthur Fellows, 73 Marshall Scholars, 48 Rhodes Scholars, 41 astronauts, and 16 Chief Scientists of the US Air Force have been affiliated with MIT.
The school also has a strong entrepreneurial culture, and the aggregated annual revenues of companies founded by MIT alumni ($1.9 trillion) would rank roughly as the tenth-largest economy in the world (2014).

Harvard (too long to list)
As of October 2019, 160 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with Harvard University. Among the 160 laureates, 144 are the laureates of the scientific Nobel Prizes and the Nobel Prize in Economics; 79 are Harvard alumni (graduates and attendees) and 56 have been long-term academic members of the Harvard faculty or Harvard-affiliated research organizations; and subject-wise.

43 laureates have won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, more than any other subject. This list considers Nobel laureates as equal individuals and does not consider their various prize shares or if they received the prize more than once. In particular, John Bardeen received two Nobel Prizes in Physics, in 1956 and in 1972; since this is a list of laureates, not prizes, he is counted only once.

Press 2 for more. :)
 

Athlonite

TS Booster
Best yet, the tech is renewable, non-polluting, low-cost and even works in areas with low humidity like in the desert

So in other words we'll never see it in use just like all the other much better ideas for batteries that have occurred in the last 20 years
 
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Best yet, the tech is renewable, non-polluting, low-cost and even works in areas with low humidity like in the desert

So in other words we'll never see it in use just like all the other much better ideas for batteries that have occurred in the last 20 years
Precisely! "Great inventions are often buried in service to the status quo"
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
This is notable, UC Berkley.

As of October 2019, Berkeley alumni, faculty members and researchers include 107 Nobel laureates, the third most of any university worldwide, as well as 25 Turing Award winners, and 14 Fields Medalists. They have also won 19 Wolf Prizes, 45 MacArthur Fellowships.
20 Academy Awards, 19 Pulitzer Prizes, and 207 Olympic medals.

In 1930, Ernest Lawrence invented the cyclotron at Berkeley, based on which UC Berkeley researchers along with Berkeley Lab have discovered or co-discovered 16 chemical elements – more than any other university.

During the 1940s, Berkeley physicist J. R. Oppenheimer, the "Father of the Atomic Bomb", led the Manhattan project to create the first atomic bomb. In the 1960s, Berkeley was particularly noted for the Free Speech Movement as well as the anti–Vietnam War movement led by its students.

In the 21st century, Berkeley has become one of the leading universities in producing entrepreneurs and its alumni have founded or co-founded many companies worldwide, including five classified as Fortune 500 Companies as of 2017.

MIT.
As of October 2019, 96 Nobel laureates, 26 Turing Award winners, and 8 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT as alumni, faculty members, or researchers.

In addition, 58 National Medal of Science recipients, 29 National Medals of Technology and Innovation recipients, 50 MacArthur Fellows, 73 Marshall Scholars, 48 Rhodes Scholars, 41 astronauts, and 16 Chief Scientists of the US Air Force have been affiliated with MIT.
The school also has a strong entrepreneurial culture, and the aggregated annual revenues of companies founded by MIT alumni ($1.9 trillion) would rank roughly as the tenth-largest economy in the world (2014).

Harvard (too long to list)
As of October 2019, 160 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with Harvard University. Among the 160 laureates, 144 are the laureates of the scientific Nobel Prizes and the Nobel Prize in Economics; 79 are Harvard alumni (graduates and attendees) and 56 have been long-term academic members of the Harvard faculty or Harvard-affiliated research organizations; and subject-wise.

43 laureates have won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, more than any other subject. This list considers Nobel laureates as equal individuals and does not consider their various prize shares or if they received the prize more than once. In particular, John Bardeen received two Nobel Prizes in Physics, in 1956 and in 1972; since this is a list of laureates, not prizes, he is counted only once.

Press 2 for more. :)
There! You just proved it. Institutions of higher learning are liberal breeding grounds and must be exterminated. :laughing:
 
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