The ‘Air-Gen‘ device generates electrical energy from environmental energy, a thin film device made of nanometer scale protein wires. According to a new study published in the journal Nature, a thin film device made of nanometric scale protein strands prepared from microorganisms can generate constant electrical energy in the natural environment.
Graphic image of a thin film of a protein nanowire that generates electricity from atmospheric moisture. Image by University of Massachusetts Amherst. “We are really producing electricity from nothing. An electrical engineer at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Drs. Jun Yao said:
“The air gene generates clean energy 24/7.” This protein is the most surprising and exciting application of nanowires, said Professor Derek Loveley, a microbiologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Air gene devices can also generate electricity in areas of extremely low humidity, such as the Sahara desert.
“This is a significant advantage over other forms of renewable energy, including solar and wind, because unlike these other renewable energy sources, the Air-Gene does not require solar or wind light, and also works indoors,” he said. Professor Loveley.
The device only requires a thin film of protein nanowires of less than 10 μm. The lower part of the film rests on an electrode, while a small electrode that covers only a part of the nanowire film is located at the top. The film announces the water vapor of the atmosphere.
A combination of the electrical conductivity and surface chemistry of protein nanowires together with fine pores between nanowires within the film establishes the conditions that generate the electric current between the two electrodes.
The current generation of air gene devices produces a constant voltage of approximately 0.5 V in a 7 μm thick film, whose current density is approximately 17 / A / cm2. “I realized that when nanowires approached with electrodes in a specific way, the devices generated a current,” said Xiaomeng Liu, Ph.D. Student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“I discovered that exposure to atmospheric moisture was necessary and that protein nanowires absorbed water, creating a voltage gradient in the device.” The scientists plan in the next phase is to develop a small ‘patch’ of air genes that can power electronic devices such as health and fitness monitors and smart watches, which will eliminate the need for conventional batteries.
They also hope to develop an air gain that is applied to cell phones to eliminate periodic charging. The ultimate goal is to build a large-scale system, Drs. Yao said. “For example, technology can be incorporated into the wall paint that can help power your home. Or we can develop autonomous air-powered generators that supply power from the grid.”
Once we reach an industrial scale for wire production, I sincerely hope that we can build larger systems that contribute significantly to sustainable production. The new device generates electricity from moisture in the air. In the race for renewable energy, engineers are cutting back on their wits to discover and exploit available energy regardless of the environment.
But sometimes it is nature that promotes scientists. This is particularly the case for a very specific bacterium, Geobacter sulphideucense, whose bacterial nanowires conduct electricity naturally. And the researchers used these nanowires to create a device that generates electricity from moisture in the air.
This unusual bacterium, belonging to the genus Bacteria, was first noticed for its ability to produce magnetite in the absence of oxygen, but over time scientists discovered that it could also produce other things, such as bacteria. Nanowires that conduct electricity.
Over the years, researchers have tried to find the use of this natural gift in a useful way. And recently he did it with a device called Air-Gene. According to the team, your device can generate electricity from virtually nothing. “We literally produce electricity from the wind. Air-gene generates clean energy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ”said Jun Yao, an electrical engineer at Jun Massachusetts University.
The study was published in the journal Nature. Due to this performance, the nanowire film is capable of absorbing the water vapor present in the atmosphere, allowing the device to generate a direct electric current between the two electrodes. The team says the charge is likely made up of a damping gradient, which causes protons to propagate in the nanowire material.
“This diffusion of charges should induce a counterbalanced electric field or the same potential as a resting membrane in biological systems. A retained moisture gradient, which is fundamentally different from anything seen in previous systems, is ours. It clarifies the nanowire constant output voltage….Device “.
Hydropower generation is more efficient than graphene. The discovery was made almost by accident, when Yao noticed that the devices he was experimenting with conducted electricity on their own. I noticed that when the nanowires were exposed to the electrode in a specific way, the devices produced a current.
I discovered that it was necessary to be exposed to atmospheric humidity and that protein nanowires absorb water, creating a voltage gradient throughout the instrument. Previous research has shown hydroelectric power production using other types of nanometry, such as graphene.
But these efforts have largely produced only short bursts of electricity, lasting only a few seconds. In contrast, the air gene produces a constant voltage of about 0.5 V, with a current density of about 17 micrograms per square centimeter. Towards large-scale power generation:
Not too much power is needed, but the team says connecting multiple devices can generate enough to charge small devices like smartphones and other personal electronic devices, all without waste and just dry as ambient humidity (even without using areas) such as the Sahara desert).
“The ultimate goal is to build a system on a large scale. Once we reach an industrial scale for the production of nanowires, I hope that we can build large-generation systems that contribute significantly to the production of sustainable energy, “said Yao, explaining Since future efforts can use the technology in homes of machines, through nanowires embedded in the mural.