One of the ways to prevent problems such as climate change and global warming is to use renewable energy sources. Researchers working for renewable energy sources have developed a device that can generate electric current from moisture in the air.
Scientists from the University of Massachusetts Amherts have developed a device that uses natural protein to generate electricity from moisture in the air. The researchers stated that this technology they developed could be used in the future in important roles in renewable energy, climate change and health.
Microbiologist Derek Lovley and Electrical Engineer Jun Yao from the University of Massachusetts Amherts named this device they developed ‘Air-gen’. Air-gene; it connects the electrodes to the protein nanowires.
Expressing that Air-gen can produce clean energy 24/7, Jun Yao said, “This is the most incredible and exciting application of protein nanowires in history.” This new technology developed in Yao’s laboratory does not pollute the environment, it can be renewed and low cost.
Air-gen can generate energy even in environments where the humidity is quite low, such as the Sahara Desert. Lovley said that Air-gen is different from other renewable energy sources such as wind and sun; He expressed that he did not need the sun and the wind. According to Lovley, the Air-gen can work even indoors.
In their research published in the journal Nature, the researchers stated that Air-gen needs a film consisting of protein nanowires thinner than 10 microns. This film keeps the water vapor in the atmosphere on the surface. The combination of electrical conductivity and the surface chemistry of protein nanowires matches the fine pores between the nanowires inside the film, thereby producing electric current between the two electrodes.
The researchers say that the current version of Air-gen can only run small electrical appliances, but they want to take this innovation to commercial size. The researchers’ next plan is to build small Air-gen devices that will power wearable technologies like smartwatches. In this way, the need for conventional batteries for these devices can be eliminated. Researchers also plan to develop this technology for mobile phones.
Yao says that their ultimate goal is to build large-scale systems. In addition, Lovley’s lab has managed to develop a filter that can produce protein nanowires on a large scale and fairly quickly. In this way, the production of protein nanowires will not be a problem.