Researchers Develop Generator Producing High Voltage from Water Drops

Sunday, February 9, 2020 - 16:35

City University of Hong Kong researchers have developed a generator that uses a field-effect transistor-style structure to instantly produce a surprisingly high voltage from water drops.

According to the Science Daily report, researchers could develop a droplet-based electricity generator (DEG), featured with a field-effect transistor (FET)-like structure that allows for high energy-conversion efficiency and instantaneous power density increased by thousands times compared to its counterparts without FET-like structure.

The new design mates an aluminum electrode with an indium tin oxide electrode layered with PTFE, a material with a "quasi-permanent" electric charge. When a drop hits the PTFE/tin surface, it bridges the two electrodes and creates a closed-loop circuit. That helps fully release any stored charges. The technology could handle sustained rainfall, too. If there are continuous drops, the charge accumulates and eventually hits a saturation point.

The research was led together by Professor Wang Zuankai from CityU's Department of Mechanical Engineering, Professor Zeng Xiao Cheng from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Professor Wang Zhong Lin, Founding Director and Chief Scientist from Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems of Chinese Academy of Sciences. Their findings were published in the latest issue of journal Nature.

"Our research shows that a drop of 100 microlitres (1 microlitre = one-millionth litre) of water released from a height of 15 cm can generate a voltage of over 140V. And the power generated can light up 100 small LED light bulbs," said Professor Wang.

Professor Wang hoped that the outcome of this research would help to harvest water energy to respond to the global problem of renewable energy shortage. "Generating power from raindrops instead of oil and nuclear energy can facilitate the sustainable development of the world," he added.

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