Electricity could be generated from condensation

Water droplets carry an electric charge which can be used to generate electricity and make power plants more efficient

(Pic: Flickr/Avatarshark)


Water droplets have an electric charge which could lead to more efficient power plants and a new way of drawing power from the atmosphere, say MIT researchers.

A study published in the journal Nature Communications says tiny water droplets that condense on metal surfaces are capable of generating an electric charge.

This occurs when droplets fuse together. They spontaneously jump from the surface, as a result of a release of excess surface energy.

Miljkovic said the charging process takes place because jumping droplets gain a net positive charge that causes them to repel each other mid-flight.

“By placing two parallel metal plates out in the open, with one surface that has droplets jumping, and another that collects them … you could generate some power just from condensation from the ambient air,” Miljkovic said.

“All that would be needed is a way of keeping the condenser surface cool, such as water from a nearby lake or river. You just need a cold surface in a moist environment,” he says. “We’re working on demonstrating this concept.”

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