How is electricity generated in clouds?

Is it possible that electrical energy arises from nothing? In this world where there is a continuous search for forms of renewable energy, this might sound crazy. However, recent research is challenging the belief that electricity is generated from where you least expect it. But what are we talking about?

Generate electricity from air humidity

An investigation from the University of Massachusetts reveals that any material can be transformed into a device that collects electricity from the humidity in the air. Said element must have “nanopores”, with a diameter of less than 100 nanometers.

The nanopores are tiny pores with a nanometer size. Holes are used to allow air and water to pass through the material. As the water flows in and out, electricity is generated that can be collected and used.

The common feature of the materials used lies in their design with suitable nanopores that allow the passage of air and water. In addition, it allows an active adsorption-desorption exchange to occur at the porous interface, which generates a charge on the surface of the material.

Capturing electricity from the clouds

According to Jun Yao, the lead author of the research paper, the air harbors a vast amount of electrical energy. A cloud is simply a collection of water droplets. Each droplet carries an electrical charge, and under the right circumstances, the cloud can generate lightning. However, electricity from lightning has not yet been able to be captured safely and reliably.

Given this scenario, scientists managed to make an artificial mini cloud that can generate electricity in a constant and predictable way.

What is the Air-Gen?

This device uses materials with tiny holes measuring 100 nanometers or less. The pores facilitate the transit of water droplets, generating a charge imbalance when interacting with the material. The result? Generate electricity.

Originally, the development of Air-gen in 2020 was based on the creation of electricity from biologically synthesized nanowires. However, it has been shown that a variety of materials can replicate this effect. The discovery provides a more adaptable and scalable approach to generating electricity from scratch.

The Air-gen device that allows to generate electricity from the humidity of the air, is in a micro-scale stage. Despite being an important achievement, it does not have the capacity, for example, to supply power to an entire house.