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New renewable device generates electricity ‘out of thin air’


New York, Feb 18: Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the US have developed a device that uses a natural protein to create electricity from moisture in the air.

The findings could have significant implications for the future of renewable energy, climate change and the future of medicine.

The researchers used electrically conductive protein nanowires produced by the microbe Geobacter to create the device called “Air-gen” or air-powered generator.

The Air-gen connects electrodes to the protein nanowires in such a way that electrical current is generated from the water vapour naturally present in the atmosphere.

“We are literally making electricity out of thin air,” said electrical engineer Jun Yao.

“The Air-gen generates clean energy 24/7.”

The new technology developed in Yao’s lab is non-polluting, renewable and low-cost. It can generate power even in areas with extremely low humidity such as the Sahara Desert, said the study.

It has significant advantages over other forms of renewable energy including solar and wind, because unlike these other renewable energy sources, the Air-gen does not require sunlight or wind, and “it even works indoors”, said microbiologist Derek Lovley.

The Air-gen device requires only a thin film of protein nanowires less than 10 microns thick, the researchers explained.(IANS)

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