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
- New DOE grant to develop catalysts for renewable energy generationon August 7, 2020 at 9:19 am
A new DOE grant led by Wayne State University aims to address the need for new catalysts used for renewable energy generation and storage.
- New catalyst rearranges carbon dioxide and water into ethanol fuelon August 7, 2020 at 12:29 am
Researchers at the US Dept of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, working with Northern Illinois University, have discovered a new catalyst that can convert carbon dioxide and water into ethanol ...
- A closer look at water-splitting's solar fuel potentialon August 6, 2020 at 9:01 am
In the fight against climate change, scientists have searched for ways to replace fossil fuels with carbon-free alternatives such as hydrogen fuel.
- Global Offshore Wind Energy Market Projected to Reach USD 87.5 Billion by 2026on August 5, 2020 at 6:14 am
Findings from Facts and Factors report "Offshore Wind Energy Market By Component (Turbine, Substructure, Electrical Infrastructure and Others) and By Location (Shallow Water, Transitional Water and ...
- 3 Top Renewable Energy Stocks to Buy in Auguston July 31, 2020 at 6:03 pm
Travis Hoium has been writing for fool.com since July 2010 and covers the solar industry, renewable energy, and gaming stocks among other things. Follow @TravisHoium Renewable energy as an asset class ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Water vapor renewable energy source
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Renewable energy source
- Clearway Energy, Inc. (CWEN) CEO Chris Sotos on Q2 2020 Results - Earnings Call Transcripton August 9, 2020 at 4:58 am
Q2 2020 Earnings Conference Call August 6, 2020 8:00 AM ET Company Participants Chad S. Plotkin - SVP and CFO Christopher S. Sotos - President and CEO Craig Cornelius - CEO and President, Clearway ...
- Electricity bill sticker shock points to the need for more competition, and that means renewable energyon August 9, 2020 at 3:06 am
It is critical to bring long-term relief to customers. That answer lies in allowing the energy market to deliver solutions through more competition, and not by handing out customer-funded giveaways to ...
- Renewable Energy Market 2020 Industry Analysis, Forthcoming Growth, Industry Prospects and Forecast to 2026| Enel, Vattenfall AB, Iberdrolaon August 8, 2020 at 9:44 pm
Renewable Energy” Market research report is an ancient evaluation and in-intensity observe on the present-day and future market of the Renewable Energy. The record represents a basic review of the ...
- My Top Renewable Energy Stock to Buy Right Nowon August 8, 2020 at 2:40 pm
With a high dividend yield, top-notch balance sheet, and ample growth prospects, this renewable energy stock could generate high-powered total returns.
- Perspective: Is the emphasis on renewable energy good for the country?on August 8, 2020 at 9:03 am
As the coronavirus pandemic rages on and as people rise up against entrenched racism, it's easy to forget that we're facing another global crisis.