Harvesting Energy from Water Vapor


A new revolution has happened in the field of material science. Scientists at MIT have come out with a new biopolymer that can generate electricity from water vapor. The finding was published in the latest edition of the journal Science Magazine. This could well be the beginning of a new technology in the world of ecofriendly, chargeable batteries.

Harvesting Energy from Water Vapor

How Does the New Biopolymer Film Work?

The basic principle of this material is conversion of mechanical energy into electrical energy. The material is a biopolymer made up of 2 different polymers namely polypyrrole and polyol borate. Polypyrrole is a hard and flexible matrix that gives structural support while polyolborate is a soft gel which absorbs water and swells. The idea of using two polymers to be made into a thin film is the turning point in this invention. Together these generate a bigger displacement and a stronger force as well.

To begin with, the film absorbs water vapor present in its surroundings and slowly changes shape which enables it to curl and uncurl. This mechanical energy generated by it is independent of artificial stimulation unlike other ways of generating mechanical energy. The mechanical energy thus generated is converted into electrical energy by the peizo electric material that has been coated on the polymer film. The process generates storable electric current of 5.6 nanowatts. This is the basic idea about how this biopolymer film works.

The practical applications of this biopolymer are still under study. The possibilities are numerous. One such possibility could be incorporating it into the clothing so that the sweat generated can be utilized to power small sized gadgets such as physiological monitors, pedometers etc. which can be simply driven by sweat.

Robert Langer, one of the senior researchers involved in the invention says “We are very excited about this new material, and we expect as we achieve higher efficiency in converting mechanical energy into electricity, this material will find even broader applications,”

Photo Credit: (inhabitat.com)


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