With non-renewable energy getting depleted day by day, scientists are finding newer ways to generate power using renewable energy. From solar to wind, we’ve seen it all.
However, now researchers have found a way to generate electricity to power 10 small LED bulbs with just a single raindrop.
First published in journal Nature, engineer Zuankai Wang from the City University of Hong Kong said, “Our research shows that a drop of 100 microlitres of water released from a height of 15 centimetres can generate a voltage of over 140 volts. The power generated can light up 100 small LED light bulbs.
We’ve seen harnessing the power of flowing water to generate electricity — that’s what massive dams do.
However, the amount of energy generation hasn’t been consistent as conventional energy generators apply the triboelectric effect — where friction between surface and water allows for trading of electrons and thus generating electricity — resulting in low energy efficiency.
However, Wang’s research overcomes these issues in two different ways. For starters, they’ve used a new material called polytetrafluoroethylene (or PTFE) which has a quasi-permanent electric charge.
Researchers found that when drops hit PTFE surface, the charges on it build up in a gradual manner till they hit a saturation point. This allows them to combat the bottleneck presented by previous methodologies that could only build up small charges.
Additionally, the design closely resembles a field-effect transistor. So when the water hits the PTFE surface, they connect the two electrodes (aluminium and indium tin oxide) it creates the setup in a closed-loop circuit that releases stored charge, thus generating electricity and powering the lights.
As per researchers, this works not just for rainwater, but also for saltwater — something our planet has in abundance.
Researchers state that this technique of power generation can be applied on the hull of a ferry, structures near a coast, and even on top of an umbrella.