New Air-Gen Device can Generate Electricity out of air

New Air-Gen Device can Generate Electricity out of air

Microbiologist, Derek Lovely, who has advanced sustainable biology-based electronic materials over three decades, adds, "It's the most incredible and exciting application of protein nanowires yet".

'It's the most awesome and exciting application of protein nanowires yet, ' said microbiologist Derek Lovley, who discovered the geobacter microbe more than 30 years ago. However, Yao said that they would soon produce more Air-Gen devices in order to allow the public to use their invention anywhere they go.

The new technology developed in Yao's lab is non-polluting, renewable and low-priced.

Yes, scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have invented a device that can do just that. It is hoped that this development could make the Air-gen commercially viable, perhaps one day replacing the batteries in devices such as smartphones ... although the possibilities don't stop there.

The next step will be to develop small marketable patches that use the Air Gen technology and could be incorporated into other devices.

The Air-gen connects electrodes to the protein nanowires, generating electrical current from water vapour in the atmosphere. In his lab, he and his research partners discovered the microbe's ability to produce conductive protein nanowires.

Air-gen can generate energy even in environments where the humidity is quite low, such as the Sahara Desert. Researchers positioned a second electrode on top, only partially covering the nanowires.

The claim may sound like an overstatement, but a new study by Yao and his team describes how the air-powered generator can indeed create electricity with nothing but the presence of air around it.

It's also important to note that the device can only power small electronics for now, but Yao says, "The ultimate goal is to make large-scale systems".

'Once we get to an industrial scale for wire production, I fully expect that we can make large systems that will make a major contribution to sustainable energy production'.

The scientists recently engineered a new microbial strain to more rapidly and inexpensively mass produce the protein wires. They joined forces to see if useful electronic devices could be made with the protein nanowires harvested from Geobacter.

One issue is the limited amount of protein nanowire that can now be produced by G. sulfurreducens, however, they may already be a novel solution: get genetically engineered E. coli to mass produce the nanowire.

"I saw that when the nanowires were contacted with electrodes in a specific way the devices generated a current".

The film absorbs water vapour from the atmosphere and starts generating electricity using a combination of electrical conductivity, surface chemistry of protein nanowires and fine pores between nanowires in the film.

In addition to the Air-gen, Yao's laboratory has developed several other applications with the protein nanowires. Now, the researchers are seeking to bring their innovation to commercial scale.

"This is just the starting of new era of protein-centered electronic devices" Yao said.

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