• For full details of graphics available/in preparation, see Menu -> Planners
 Lucht-gegenereerde energie uit ijle lucht infographic
Graphic shows how electricity is generated using nanopores in almost any material.
GN44508NL

TECHNOLOGIE

Lucht-gegenereerde energie uit ijle lucht

By Phil Bainbridge

July 5, 2023 - Inventor Nikola Tesla’s 1930s vision of the atmosphere as an enormous battery, with the Earth and upper atmosphere as the two electrodes, is set to be realised on a microscopic scale using humidity in the air.

The hydrologic cycle, in which water vapour is released from rivers, lakes and oceans to form clouds, which then precipitate, reversing the flow, is the Earth’s largest energy carrier, regulator and balancer, exchanging twice the current total global energy demand.

Scientists have discovered that it is possible to simulate this effect on a microscopic scale using materials with nanopores - holes less than 100 nanometres wide - or less than one thousandth the width of a human hair, which allow the water molecules to pass from the top to a lower level. Water molecules - which all carry a charge - suspended in the air as atmospheric humidity will bump into the sides of these nanopores, creating an energy imbalance between the top where they enter and the lower level, in much the same way as the droplets in a thundercloud.

Having originally discovered the process using protein nanowires, the researchers found that in fact almost any material could be used so long as the pores are sufficiently small.

Since humidity is available all through the day and night, the generator could continue to work round the clock, unlike technologies such as wind and solar which only work in specific conditions. Although each thin layer converts atmospheric humidity into a very small amount of power, in principle it should be possible to stack them for household or even industrial scale applications.

Sources
PUBLISHED: 05/07/2023; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images
Advertisement