Harnessing Electricity From Thin Air

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One of the positive side effects of global warming has been that we are all racking our brains on how to turn it around - whether it be by recycling plastic waste or figuring out green sources of energy like the sun and ocean tides. Now, scientists believe they may be able to tap an even better source - our atmosphere!

For the longest time it was believed that the water in the atmosphere was electrically neutral. However, new studies have revealed that humid air actually picks up charge when it comes in contact with dust particles or other substances in the air.

This discovery led Brazilian scientist Dr. Fernando Galembeck and his colleagues, to delve further, and see if we could capture this electricity to our benefit. To test this they simulated the atmospheric conditions in their laboratory.

Taking small particles of Aluminum Phosphate and Silica, two of the most common substances found in the atmosphere they exposed it to water vapor and noticed that the Silica particles took on a negative charge, while the Aluminum Phosphate became more positively charged.

The scientists believe that this hygroelectricity or humidity electricity that occurs naturally, can be accumulated and transferred to collectors similar to how solar cells are able to collect the sun's energy. Of course, just like solar cells work best in areas with a lot of sun, hygroelectricity panels would be most efficient in areas with high humidity or those prone to thunderstorms.

While the idea has only been tested in a laboratory, it is definitely a step in the right direction and opens up a totally new source of green sustainable energy, not to mention, another step in the right direction toward helping our planet.

sources: treehugger.com, popsci.com

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67 Comments
  • omegafox9about 3 years
    Cool
    • electricty
      electrictyalmost 7 years
      This is SO cool!!!! I loved the pictures too! I just think electricity is SO amazing!!!! :D
      • omegafox9
        omegafox9almost 7 years
        awesome
        • greekgods123
          greekgods123almost 7 years
          cool
          • Hiabout 7 years
            WOW
            • Kayla_Got_Swaggabout 8 years
              I loved it
              • Kayla_Got_Swaggabout 8 years
                Sweat
                • elk1305
                  elk1305about 8 years
                  cool
                  • elk1305
                    elk1305about 8 years
                    wow! this is toatally amazing!
                    • elk1305
                      elk1305about 8 years
                      wow!