Nature: Generators use moisture from the air to generate electricity and can also be used indoors

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amster have developed a power generation device that uses a protein to generate electricity from moisture in the air. They say the technology will have a profound impact on renewable energy, climate change and health in the future. Jun Yao, an electronics engineer at the University of Massachusetts at Amster, and Derek Loveley, a microbiologist, have developed a device they call an “air generator” that uses a conductive protein nanowire made from the bacteria, Nature reported today.

Nature: Generators use moisture from the air to generate electricity and can also be used indoors

Nature: Generators use moisture from the air to generate electricity and can also be used indoors

In an “air generator”, the electrode is connected to the protein nanowires, and the natural presence of water in the air generates an electric current.

Yao Jun said, “It is not an exaggeration to say that air generators can generate electricity without a solution.” It generates clean energy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. “

“This is by far the most amazing and exciting application of protein nanowires,” said Lofley, who has been working on sustainable bioelectronic materials for the past 30 years. “

This power generation technology developed by Yao Jun Laboratory has the characteristics of not producing pollution, renewable and low cost. It can generate electricity even in very arid areas, such as the Sahara Desert.

Compared with other forms of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, air generators have considerable advantages, for example, without the need for sunlight or wind, “it can even generate electricity indoors”, Says Mr Lovelly.

The researchers explained that an air generator requires only a film of protein nanowires no more than 10 microns thick. At the bottom of the film is an electrode and a smaller electrode at the top. Films can absorb moisture from the air.

The conductivity and chemical properties of protein nanowires, and capillary pores between the nanowires in the film, create the conditions for generating current between the two electrodes.

The current power generation of air generators, which power small electronic devices, is expected to be commercially available soon, the researchers said.

In the future, they plan to develop an air generator “patch” that powers wearable devices such as fitness trackers and smartwatches, eliminating the need for traditional batteries. They also want to develop an air generator version for mobile phones, eliminating the pain of charging the phone.

“Our ultimate goal is to develop large-scale systems, ” Yao said. For example, this technology will be integrated into the decoration materials to provide electricity to the consumer’s home. We may also develop stand-alone air generators to supply electricity to the grid. Once our technology is put into industrial use, I expect the large-scale systems we develop will have a significant impact on the production of sustainable energy. “

To facilitate the practical application of Thecolio, Lovelly’s lab recently developed a new strain that can further speed up the production of protein nanowires and reduce costs.

“We convert Edeande into a protein nanowire factory,” he said. With this large-scale production process, the supply of protein nanowires will no longer be a bottleneck in the development of these applications. “

They say the development of air generators highlights unusual interdisciplinary collaboration. More than 30 years ago, Lovefound Mycobacterium in the sludge of the Potomac River, and his team discovered the ability it could be used to produce conductive protein nanowires.

Before joining the University of Massachusetts amsto, Yao worked at Harvard University for several years, designing an electronic product using silicon nanowires. Their goal is to explore whether protein nanowires produced by bacillus can be used in electronics.

“I saw this phenomenon, and when nanowires are connected to electrodes, the device generates electricity, ” said Xiaomeng Liu, a doctoral student at Yao Jun’s lab, who is developing a new sensor device. I’ve found that exposure to the air is essential for generating electricity, and that protein nanowires absorb moisture and generate voltage on the device. “

In addition to air generators, Yao Jun Lab has developed several other applications for protein nanowires. “The curtain has just begun on a new era of protein-based electronic sedevices,” he said. “