Technology 2 min read

New Air-Gen Device can Generate Electricity out of air

Researchers developed a device that can generate electricity 24/7 out of thin air using protein nanowires produced by microbes.

artjazz / Shutterstock.com

artjazz / Shutterstock.com

Imagine being able to generate electricity straight out of thin air. As far-fetched as that may sound, such a device already exists.

Yes, scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have invented a device that can do just that. And they’re calling it Air-gen or air-powered generator.

Air-gen works through an electrically conductive protein nanowire that the microbe Geobacter produces. So, the generator connects electrodes to the protein nanowires such that it generates electric current from the surrounding water vapor.

One of the researchers from the laboratories of an electrical engineer, Jun Yao said

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

Microbiologist, Derek 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.”

The researchers described how the technology works in their published paper in the journal Nature.

Using Air-Gen to Generate Electricity From Atmospheric Humidity

According to the researchers, the air-powered generator only requires a thin film of protein nanowire that’s less than 10 microns.

The film covers the top and bottom parts of the electrode and absorbs water vapor from the atmosphere. In response, a combination of electrical conductivity and surface chemistry of the protein nanowires would establish the conditions necessary to generate current.

As you may have guessed, this form of energy generation is non-polluting and renewable and low-cost.

Not only can you generate power in areas with low humidity, but it doesn’t even require sunlight or wind. In other words, the air-powered generator works indoors.

At the moment, the device produces enough electricity to power small electronic devices. However, the researchers intend to develop a small Air-Gen patch to power wearable devices. It could maybe even power smartphones one day.

“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,” Yao explained.

Or, we may develop stand-alone air-powered generators that supply electricity off the grid.

Read More: Water Harvester Extracts Record Amount of Drinking Water From Air

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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