via NASA Earth Observatory
Electricity generated by interactions between water molecules and metals may be turned into a source of energy, TAU research reveals
The search for renewable energy sources, which include wind, solar, hydroelectric dams, geothermal, and biomass, has preoccupied scientists and policymakers alike, due to their enormous potential in the fight against climate change. A new Tel Aviv University study finds that water vapor in the atmosphere may serve as a potential renewable energy source in the future.
The research, led by Prof. Colin Price in collaboration with Prof. Hadas Saaroni and doctoral student Judi Lax, all of TAU’s Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, is based on the discovery that electricity materializes in the interaction between water molecules and metal surfaces. It was published in Nature Scientific Reports on May 6, 2020.
“We sought to capitalize on a naturally occurring phenomenon: electricity from water,” explains Prof. Price. “Electricity in thunderstorms is generated only by water in its different phases — water vapor, water droplets, and ice. Twenty minutes of cloud development is how we get from water droplets to huge electric discharges — lightning — some half a mile in length.”
The researchers set out to try to produce a tiny low-voltage battery that utilizes only humidity in the air, building on the findings of earlier discoveries. In the nineteenth century, for example, English physicist Michael Faraday discovered that water droplets could charge metal surfaces due to friction between the two. A much more recent study showed that certain metals spontaneously build up an electrical charge when exposed to humidity.
The scientists conducted a laboratory experiment to determine the voltage between two different metals exposed to high relative humidity, while one is grounded. “We found that there was no voltage between them when the air was dry,” Prof. Price explains. “But once the relative humidity rose above 60%, a voltage began to develop between the two isolated metal surfaces. When we lowered the humidity level to below 60%, the voltage disappeared. When we carried out the experiment outside in natural conditions, we saw the same results.
“Water is a very special molecule. During molecular collisions, it can transfer an electrical charge from one molecule to the other. Through friction, it can build up a kind of static electricity,” says Prof. Price. “We tried to reproduce electricity in the lab and found that different isolated metal surfaces will build up different amounts of charge from water vapor in the atmosphere, but only if the air relative humidity is above 60%. This occurs nearly every day in the summer in Israel and every day in most tropical countries.”
According to Prof. Price, this study challenges established ideas about humidity and its potential as an energy source. “People know that dry air results in static electricity and you sometimes get ‘shocks’ you when you touch a metal door handle. Water is normally thought of as a good conductor of electricity, not something that can build up charge on a surface. However, it seems that things are different once the relative humidity exceeds a certain threshold,” he says.
The researchers, however, showed that humid air may be a source of charging surfaces to voltages of around one volt. “If a AA battery is 1.5V, there may be a practical application in the future: to develop batteries that can be charged from water vapor in the air,” Prof. Price adds.
“The results may be particularly important as a renewable source of energy in developing countries, where many communities still do not have access to electricity, but the humidity is constantly about 60%,” Prof. Price concludes.
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Water vapor renewable energy source
- The best ethanol fireplaceon February 18, 2021 at 1:07 pm
Ethanol (aka bioethanol) is classified as a renewable ... energy crops such as corn, potatoes, and wheat. When it burns, the most prevalent byproducts are carbon dioxide, heat, and water vapor.
- Leaving Coal Behind: OUC Switching to Gas in a Step Toward Sustainabilityon February 16, 2021 at 4:40 pm
The utility provider is converting its two coal plants at their Stanton Energy Center to gas. The process will take several years, with OUC hoping to wrap the transition by 2027. "This has been the ...
- Lyft and Toyota bring hydrogen rideshare vehicles to Vancouver, Canadaon February 12, 2021 at 3:02 am
Drivers in the program will be able to use the Kinto Share App to rent the Mirai for $198 per week. The Lyft Canada app recently announced that it had entered ...
- What Is Geothermal Energy? Definition, Examples, and Production Processon February 10, 2021 at 10:02 am
This heat can come from hot water that is converted into steam via a flash tank — or in rarer cases, directly from geothermal steam. Regardless of its source, it’s estimated that heat located ...
- Nanogrid Could Hold Key to Clean Energy Futureon February 1, 2021 at 3:51 pm
Courtesy: OUC “Its only byproducts are water vapor, heat, and energy,” said Kramer, explaining the benefits of using hydrogen as a renewable energy source. At the nanogrid, hydrogen will be ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Water vapor renewable energy source
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Renewable energy source
- Why Renewable Energy Stocks Got Crushed Todayon February 22, 2021 at 12:05 pm
Shares of renewable energy stocks were crushed in trading on Monday as fears over rising interest rates hit the market. Losses were widespread, but the biggest names in renewable energy were hit hard.
- 3 Stocks for a Renewable Energy Transitionon February 22, 2021 at 10:45 am
The world is transitioning away from dirty fuels to clean energy at a rapid rate. Coal use is in decline, wind and solar production is up, and even oil disruption is on the horizon with electric ...
- Renewable Energy Policy FiT Analysis Market Size, Latest Trend, Growth by Size, Application and Forecast 2028on February 22, 2021 at 9:36 am
The rising awareness about green energy sources across the world is transforming the energy and power industry. The ...
- Biomass power: Is the UK’s second-largest source of renewable energy sustainable?on February 22, 2021 at 8:02 am
Over the past few decades, biomass-burning has played an increasingly large role in the UK’s electricity supply. But concerns have long been raised about the sustainability of biomass power. Daisy Dun ...
- Capitol Business Preview: A week of debates regarding energyon February 22, 2021 at 6:20 am
Legislative Republicans are calling for an all-of-the-above approach that would not limit production or use of traditional energy sources any further.