Friday, 28 August 2015

How to collect electricity out of the air

Imagine if it were possible to extract electricity directly out of the air…. well, a team of scientists from the University of Campinas in Brazil have been working on just that. They are doing this by drawing charge from humid air, offering the promise of renewable power.

The study authors, Telma R. D. Ducati, Luis H. Simoes and Fernando Galembeck, found that tubes of aluminum, stainless steel, or chromium acquired electric charge in high relative humidity, and that the charge rose as the humidity went up. Those metals are key, because none of them rust in swampy air, the paper said. Instead they develop a metal oxide coating that absorbs ions from surrounding water droplets. Whether the ion is OH- or H+, the other half of the water molecule ricochets off into the atmosphere, allowing the metal tube to acquire a charge. This charge can then be drained off with a short circuit.

The scientists have decided to call it hygroelectricity, which means “humid electricity.”

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