New droplet electricity generator that uses a Teflon film dramatically broke through the limits that were so far limiting this interesting way to produce energy. From the fall of a single droplet of water from 15 cm, it can produce over 140 V.
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When it rains a little it of energy falls with each drop of water. It would be a sin not to use this energy – for example, to produce electricity. Of course, this isn't an idea that was never thought of before. But the scientists and engineers weren't capable of getting enough energy out of such devices to make the technology commercially interesting. But now we may be coming to the long-awaited breakthrough.
Wang Zuankai from the City University of Hong Kong and his coworkers developed a technology that can generate enough electricity from a single droplet of water to light up a hundred commercial LEDs. This is a gigantic leap in the effectiveness of similar devices. In fact, the effectiveness is about a thousand times better.
Energy One Drop At A Time
Zuankai’s team had a droplet that was made from 100 microliters of water fall from the height of 15 centimeters. Their technology was capable of producing 140 V from a single droplet – enough to light up the LED. It wasn't easy and the researchers had to use sophisticated tricks. In the past, many attempts were made but over time we found out that the physics behind turning the energy of water droplets into electricity is much more complex than in the case of using the energy of tides, waves, or flowing water.
One of the tricks used by Zuankai and his colleagues during building their droplet-based electricity generator (DEG) is a thin Teflon film. Such a material is capable of gathering surface charge as the droplets fall until it gets saturated.
Their DEG is built in a way that when a water droplet falls on the surface of the generator it creates a bridge and connects two electrodes. One of them is from aluminum and the other is indium tin oxide and has the already mentioned Teflon film on top. The water droplets fulfill the role of the resistor while the surface of the generator functions as a condenser.
The power output of the new technology is truly remarkable. At the same time, it has the benefit of being usable not only during rain but anywhere where water falls often. From the hull of both small and large ships, waters parks or even just water bottles. There is still a lot of work to be done before the new droplet-based generator with Teflon will be ready for practical usage but the creators of the technology are hoping they will have a finished functional prototype ready within five years.
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