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Science & Technology

Scientists invent device that generates electricity out of thin air

By T.K. Randall
May 25, 2023 · Comment icon 25 comments

Could 'air-gen' be the future of clean energy generation ? Image Credit: Pixabay / qimono
The novel 'air-gen' device is capable of continuously generating electricity using almost any material.
It might sound like something out of a science-fiction movie, but this intriguing new power generator - which has been developed by scientists at the University of Massachusetts - is the real deal.

Impressively, it doesn't require any kind of conventional fuel and is completely clean, making it a viable alternative to traditional power generation methods and a rival to wind and solar power.

Comprised of a piece of material filled with tiny holes 100 nanometers in diameter, the generator works by pulling electricity from water droplets in the air.

While efforts to do this have been attempted before, this particular "air-generator" can produce electricity for longer than anything that has come before it.
"One day we may get clean electricity literally anywhere, anytime by using Air-gen technology (i.e., the concept of ‘ubiquitous powering'), because air humidity is 24/7 continuous and everywhere," computer engineer Jun Yao told Motherboard.

"The basis for broad-scale power is that the air contains a huge amount of electricity."

"So if we make Air-gen bigger, we can get larger-volume power—that volume can certainly extend to usage for daily-life functions."

Source: | Comments (25)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #16 Posted by moonman 11 months ago
It mentions nothing about how much power a large scale one could make. I'm guessing not much. I'd love to be wrong but I'm not seeing this replace power plants any time soon.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Desertrat56 11 months ago
Until about 30 years ago, when a lot of Tesla's patents were freed up (can't remember how many years a patent is held)   But we have all kinds of things now based on Tesla's patents and experiements including wifi.   
Comment icon #18 Posted by Abramelin 11 months ago
Makes me think of this: Fooling around with alternating currents is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever. It's too dangerous . . . it could kill a man as quick as a bolt of lightning. Direct current is safe. Thomas A. Edison  
Comment icon #19 Posted by Tatetopa 11 months ago
As I read it, it relies on utilizing the static charge on water droplets in the atmosphere.  I don't think that would work on bodies of water.  At  its root, it seems to be a way to extract the energy the sun puts into the atmosphere through evaporation of water and ionization that occurs in the atmosphere to charge the droplets.  Just like every other form of energy extraction or conversion, it requires energy to make the conversion.  Viability is dependent on efficiency, how much energy does it extract versus how much energy does it require.  As far as we know, there are no free lunche... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by Nicolette 11 months ago
If it runs on water vapor.... Why even bother pulling it out of the air? In a desert there isn't much in the air. Filling a tub to make the room more humid as opposed to having a tank where you can pour a bottle of water in it seems even more ridiculous.   If that is what is needed just to be able to say "it runs on thin air" instead of a small amount of water then they need to tone down the marketing. And yes I did read the link but the electrical charge from water vapor is not exclusive to the air it is from the formation of the individual molecules. The technology uses the air but is depen... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by Abramelin 11 months ago
It runs on the charge of H2O molecules:
Comment icon #22 Posted by Nicolette 11 months ago
Exactly... Has nothing to do with the atmosphere i think you guys are taking thier lightning example wrong. The electricity comes from the imbalance of imperfect molecules and the destruction of them. Distilled water has less charge. Saltwater carries much more. I think the air idea is so it can work anywhere but in most cases that seems like a huge cut in efficiency to reach that possibility. They should really consider a model for people that have access to water.
Comment icon #23 Posted by Abramelin 11 months ago
Exactly... Has nothing to do with the atmosphere It has everything to do with the atmosphere. Our atmosphere contains water molecules, even in dry deserts.   No. Did you ever study chemistry? And H2O is a perfect molecule.
Comment icon #24 Posted by Abramelin 11 months ago
Here you can download the paper (32 pages, plus explaining images) : Moisture‐Enabled Electricity Generation: From Physics and Materials to Self‐Powered Applications
Comment icon #25 Posted by Desertrat56 11 months ago
We already have equipment that puts water into the air from a tank of water, one is called a humidifier, like you mentioned, the other is a swamp cooler that we use in desert homes to keep them comfortable when the temperatures go over 100 degrees.   And they work really well unless we have a day where the humidity goes over 30%.  (used to happen very rarely but now it is common, average humidity in the area I live in used to be 9%, now it is 16%).   You have to use electricity to use those devices so you would not get enough from this new invention to justify the energy used by the equipme... [More]

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