Ultra-thin device makes electricity using only the air around it

National University of Singapore researchers have created a new moisture-driven electricity generation device that uses water in the air to make power.

Published Aug 19, 2022 5:03 AM CDT   |   Updated Sun, Sep 11 2022 10:57 AM CDT
1 minute & 37 seconds read time

A study on the moisture-driven electricity generation (MEG) device titled "An Asymmetric Hygroscopic Structure for Moisture‐Driven Hygro‐Ionic Electricity Generation and Storage" has been published in the journal Advanced Materials.

Researchers from the National University of Singapore's (NUS) College of Design and Engineering (CDE) have created a new ultra-thin MEG device, consisting of only a thin layer of fabric, measuring only 0.3 millimeters (mm) thick, sea salt, carbon ink, and a water-absorbent hydrogel. The device generates electricity by utilizing the moisture in the air, and the concept of MEG devices shows promise for various applications such as wearable electronics.

Water saturation has been one of the challenges facing existing MEG devices, stopping them from being able to produce more electricity. The researchers overcame this by creating their new MEG device with two distinct regions, each with different properties that can indefinitely maintain a difference in water content between them. The fabric is made from wood pulp and polyester and coated with carbon nanoparticle ink.

The wet region comprises a portion of the fabric coated with the hygroscopic ionic hydrogel made using sea salt, which absorbs more than six times its weight in moisture from the air. The dry region comprises the rest of the fabric but with no hydrogel. As water is absorbed in the wet region, the positive and negative ions in the sea salt separate, creating a charge differential that allows the device to generate and output electricity for hundreds of hours.

"With this unique asymmetric structure, the electric performance of our MEG device is significantly improved in comparison with prior MEG technologies, thus making it possible to power many common electronic devices, such as health monitors and wearable electronics," said Assistant Professor Tan Swee Ching from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

"After water absorption, one piece of power-generating fabric that is 1.5 by 2 centimeters in size can provide up to 0.7 volts (V) of electricity for over 150 hours under a constant environment," said research team member Dr. Zhang Yaoxin.

You can read more from the study here.

Ultra-thin device makes electricity using only the air around it 01 | TweakTown.com
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