Using nanowires born from bacteria, scientists generate electricity from the air

Tram Ho

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Surprisingly enough: A team of scientists has just found a way to create an electronic stream of humid air, and they have made a new breakthrough thanks to a bacteria.

Called the “Air-gen” by the team, the electrical generator works when the water in the air around it responds to tiny conductive filaments of microbial levels synthesized by bacteria. This technology is still in its infancy, but has brought in its ability to become an alternative power source for electronics.

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst are responsible for this remarkable work, and published their paper in Nature this Monday.

We generate electricity from the air, the sentence just now is accurate to every word. Air-gen equipment generates clean energy 24/7, ”electrical engineer Jun Yao wrote in a press release. ” This is currently the most amazing and impressive application of the protein nanowire conductor industry .”

Nanowires are microscopic protein strands (about one-billionth of a meter) that can conduct electricity, resulting from the Geobacter species. The team placed a layer of that nanowire between two gold-made electrodes with an area of ​​25mm square – they created a “nanowire sandwich”.

What happens next is that the nanowire membrane absorbs moisture from the air and creates an electrical gradient, which not only appears in the moisture that permeates the nanowire membrane, but also in the generated current ,” said Derek Lovley. , one of the scientists responsible for studying Geobacter said. “ It seems that water permeates on the surface of the nanofilm discharge through water molecules. Thanks to this phenomenon, we are able to generate a continuous current . ”

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According to the study, which device generates a voltage of about 0.5 volts for 20 hours before “recharging itself”; scientists can even use that electricity to light an LED light bulb. However, before the “breakthroughs” turn into “success”, science must always overcome a certain barrier.

This means that Geobacter cannot produce enough nanowires to create a sufficiently large electrical system. Unable to rely on Geobacter forever, the research team came up with another familiar scientific name: E. coli. Preliminary analyzes show that E. coli is a good candidate to replace Geobacter.

Researcher Lovley hopes that the ability to create electricity from nowhere with nano-protein nanowires will be another way to help people abandon renewable fuels, especially in the context of climate change is getting worse. Currently, scientists are looking for ways to scale up the electricity generation system to gain more energy.

The first two thought applications are smartwatches and smartphones, and the big dream of “making electricity from the air” has not stopped there.

Our ultimate goal is to create a large-scale system. For example, we can attach this technology to the wall to create electricity for example. Or we can create a generator using using air to power the common grid , ”Yao said in a press release.

Once the production of wires reaches an industrial scale, I hope that we can create systems large enough to become the clean energy source for the world .”

Refer to Motherboard

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Source : Genk