According to a news release from the National University of Singapore (NUS), a team of researchers from the College of Design and Engineering (CDE) has created a self-charging electrical generating (MEG) device that creates power from air moisture.
Made with easily available sea salt
The unique device is made of a 0.3-millimeter layer of cloth and includes nothing but sea salt, carbon ink, and a special water-absorbing gel.
The new MEG technology is believed to solve difficulties commonly connected with these machines, such as water saturation of the device when exposed to ambient humidity, resulting in subpar electrical performance.
To accomplish this, a research team led by Assistant Professor Tan Swee Ching from CDE’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering developed a novel MEG device with two regions of different properties that can maintain a difference in water content for hundreds of hours, allowing for electrical output.
A wet section of the device is coated with a unique material derived from sea salt. This unique water-absorbing gel can absorb more than six times its own weight and is used to extract moisture from the air. This region is supplemented by a dry zone, which produces ideal circumstances for energy production.
“Sea salt was selected as the water-absorbing compound because of its non-toxic qualities and ability to give a sustainable option for desalination facilities to dispose of the generated sea salt and brine,” Tan explained.
The MEG device generates electricity when the ions of sea salt are separated as water is absorbed in the wet zone, causing changes to the fabric’s surface and generating an electric field across it. These surface modifications also enable the cloth to store electricity for later use.
The researchers were able to maintain high water content in the wet zone and low water content in the dry part by merging wet and dry sections, allowing them to retain electrical output even when the wet region was saturated with water. They discovered that the device worked even after 30 days in an open humid atmosphere.
Improved electric performance
“With this unique asymmetric structure, our MEG device’s electric performance is greatly increased in contrast to past MEG technologies, allowing us to power numerous popular electronic devices, such as health monitors and wearable electronics,” Tan noted.
The new NUS discovery is highly scalable because its basic components are widely available and easy to obtain. It also has a very low fabrication cost of roughly US$0.15 per meter square. All of this suggests that the MEG gadget is ready for mass production.
“Our gadget has high scalability and a low fabrication cost. In comparison to current MEG structures and devices, our invention is simpler and easier to scale-up integrations and connections. We believe it has enormous commercial potential “Tan finished his sentence.
The findings were published in the print edition of the scholarly journal Advanced Materials.