Imagine painting your home with a special paint that also powers your lights using renewable energy drawn from the air.
That might sound too good to be true, but researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst think it could be one of many future uses for a new technology they have developed — a device called the Air-gen that can, as its name suggests, generate electricity from moisture in the air.
"We are literally making electricity out of thin air," Amherst electrical engineer Jun Yao explained in a university press release. "The Air-gen generates clean energy 24/7."
The device, explained in a Nature article published Monday, is a unique collaboration between engineering and biology, according to the press release. Its origins lie within a microbe called Geobacter that study coauthor Derek Lovley discovered in the mud of the Potomac River more than 30 years ago. After studying the microbe, Lovley realized that it could produce protein nanowires that conduct electricity. Lovley and Yao then joined forces to see if there were practical applications for the microbe's power.
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