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Thread: Electrical power from Air?

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Electrical power from Air?


    Power generation from ambient humidity using protein nanowires

    Abstract

    Harvesting energy from the environment offers the promise of clean power for self-sustained systems1,2. Known technologies—such as solar cells, thermoelectric devices and mechanical generators—have specific environmental requirements that restrict where they can be deployed and limit their potential for continuous energy production3,4,5. The ubiquity of atmospheric moisture offers an alternative. However, existing moisture-based energy-harvesting technologies can produce only intermittent, brief (shorter than 50 seconds) bursts of power in the ambient environment, owing to the lack of a sustained conversion mechanism6,7,8,9,10,11,12. Here we show that thin-film devices made from nanometre-scale protein wires harvested from the microbe Geobacter sulfurreducens can generate continuous electric power in the ambient environment. The devices produce a sustained voltage of around 0.5 volts across a 7-micrometre-thick film, with a current density of around 17 microamperes per square centimetre. We find the driving force behind this energy generation to be a self-maintained moisture gradient that forms within the film when the film is exposed to the humidity that is naturally present in air. Connecting several devices linearly scales up the voltage and current to power electronics. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of a continuous energy-harvesting strategy that is less restricted by location or environmental conditions than other sustainable approaches.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2010-9


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    Is this ground-breaking or another "cold fusion?"

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    radical strawberry
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post


    Is this ground-breaking or another "cold fusion?"
    That's one of the best scientific journals on the planet, and it's gathering a lot of attention quickly. But it's also just one article, brand new, with minimal feedback from the community. And the results aren't especially impressive.

    In the abstract, you see .5 V driving 17 microamps from 1 cm^2. That translates to 8.5 microwatts/cm^2 ... which is tiny tiny ... think 8.5 watts from a sheet 300 ft wide by 300 ft long, and a hundreds of those to power a typical American household.

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    Thread Killer QuantaFille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    That's one of the best scientific journals on the planet, and it's gathering a lot of attention quickly. But it's also just one article, brand new, with minimal feedback from the community. And the results aren't especially impressive.

    In the abstract, you see .5 V driving 17 microamps from 1 cm^2. That translates to 8.5 microwatts/cm^2 ... which is tiny tiny ... think 8.5 watts from a sheet 300 ft wide by 300 ft long, and a hundreds of those to power a typical American household.
    Then again, our devices which run on electricity have been developed over the years to use less and less electricity. Compare LED lights to incandescent, for instance. By the time this technology is ready to go, we might not even require very much to power a typical home.
    Curiosity never hurt anyone. It was stupidity that killed the cat.

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    radical strawberry
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuantaFille View Post
    Then again, our devices which run on electricity have been developed over the years to use less and less electricity. Compare LED lights to incandescent, for instance. By the time this technology is ready to go, we might not even require very much to power a typical home.
    It's not about devices. Nearly all of the energy used in a home is spent on heating and cooling. Even if a home is efficiently insulated, it's still necessary to heat food and keep it refrigerated. The typical toaster or microwave needs a kilowatt ... that's a hundred of those sheets all by itself.

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    That's one of the best scientific journals on the planet, and it's gathering a lot of attention quickly. But it's also just one article, brand new, with minimal feedback from the community. And the results aren't especially impressive.

    In the abstract, you see .5 V driving 17 microamps from 1 cm^2. That translates to 8.5 microwatts/cm^2 ... which is tiny tiny ... think 8.5 watts from a sheet 300 ft wide by 300 ft long, and a hundreds of those to power a typical American household.
    But there is a LOT of air, Juv. And this is just at an experimental stage. It just seems "too good to be true" - either it could be a mistaken reading or it is something that won't work at large scale.

    Kind of reminds me of Tesla's plan to broadcast power to the world wirelessly.

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    radical strawberry
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    But there is a LOT of air, Juv. And this is just at an experimental stage. It just seems "too good to be true" - either it could be a mistaken reading or it is something that won't work at large scale.

    Kind of reminds me of Tesla's plan to broadcast power to the world wirelessly.
    Don't get me wrong, Sparkles. I'd love to see another commercially viable zero-carbon energy source developed.

    IN SPACE!!!

    Whoops, sorry about the shouting.

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    radical strawberry
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    The footprints required may not be as intimidating as I'm describing. For instance, despite the huge area needed for even a tiny capacitor, folks have gotten really clever about rolling them up to reduce the size.

    And these moisture-power doodads are thin, 7 micrometers! For a microwave burning 1 KW ... 1,170,000 square meters of sheet ... packed tightly at 7 micrometers / sheet ... that's about 8 meters high.

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    Don't get me wrong, Sparkles. I'd love to see another commercially viable zero-carbon energy source developed.

    IN SPACE!!!

    Whoops, sorry about the shouting.
    zero point energy?

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    radical strawberry
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    zero point energy?
    Solar arrays beaming power back to microwave collectors.

    It was in Jerry Pournelle's A Step Further Out, a collection of essays in Galaxy Mag from the 70s.

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    Solar arrays beaming power back to microwave collectors.

    It was in Jerry Pournelle's A Step Further Out, a collection of essays in Galaxy Mag from the 70s.
    Ben Bova also wrote about solar satellites. I would just worry about such powerful microwave beams shooting down from space to the collectors. Seems like problems waiting to happen, frying birds, heating up the atmosphere, etc. I guess the power loss wouldn't matter (it would be high) because the source is endless.

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