What’ll They Think of Next?
OK, we’re taking a little creative license here, but humble microbes could play a role in power generation some day.
In our ongoing effort to bring you news of surprising sources of energy (raindrops and solar panels that work at night, for instance), we are pleased to report that a research team has announced it has successfully used ambient humidity to generate power.
“Moisture-based energy-harvesting technologies” already exist, the researchers noted, but they work only intermittently and briefly. However, the team says it has demonstrated “the feasibility of a continuous energy-harvesting strategy that is less restricted by location or environmental conditions than other sustainable approaches.”
Their secret weapon? Thin-film devices made from nanometre-scale protein wires harvested from Geobacter sulfurreducens, a humble microorganism discovered in river mud 30 years ago.
“It works 24/7,” Derek Lovley, a microbiologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and one of the authors of the study, told Inverse. “It doesn’t need the sun. It also doesn’t need wind. It can work indoors.” Lovley said future applications could range from phone chargers to the generation of electricity for homes.