air-gen device takes electricity producing “geobacter” to the next level

UMass Amherst microbiologist Derek Lovley who originally discovered electric- generating microbes in the mud of the Potomac River, has created a geobacter strain, geobacter sulfurreducens (geobacter) that makes more rapidly and less expensively, according to a a February 20, article by Big Think.

Electrical engineer Jun Yao, and his doctoral student Xiaomeng Liuof of UMass Amherst believe “Air-gen,” a device they created using a thin film of geobacter can be a source of energy for human use. It employs a thin film of Geobacter nanowires less than 10 microns thick resting on an electrode. Another, smaller electrode sits on top of the film. The film collects, or adsorbs, water vapor, and its surface chemistry and conductivity produce a charge that passes between the two electrodes through the fine gaps between individual nanowires.

Their “Air-gen” device currently generates enough energy to power small electronic devices, such as smart watches and health/ fitness devices. Says Yao, “We are literally making electricity out of thin air.” The Air-gen generates clean energy 24/7. The researchers have plans to expand the power generating capacity further.

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