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A new method to produce electricity is developed at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

A new method for generating electricity was discovered. “We are literally making electricity out of thin air,”

said electrical engineer and Assistant Professor Jun Yao, who led the development of the Air-gen at the University of Massachusetts Amherst alongside microbiologist and Professor Derek Lovley.What’s the subject of invention ? The Air-gen generator uses a natural protein to create electricity from water vapour. Geobacter sulfurreducens, is a microbe that can produce electricity. The device is a unique collaboration between engineering and biology. The Air-gen consists of a thin film of the protein nanowires measuring just 7 micrometers thick, positioned between two electrodes, but also exposed to the air. Currently the Air-gen is only powerful enough for small electronic devices. 17 of these devices linked together can generate enough electricity to power a cell phone. The ultimate goal is to make large-scale systems.

computer-generated-energy-process
A computer generated image explaining the process

The Air-gen doesn’t require much water in the atmosphere, with the researchers confident it will work in places as dry at the Sahara Desert. “This is just the beginning of new era of protein-based electronic devices” Prof Yao said. The researchers hope to develop commercial applications. The new technology could have change the face of renewable energy with the potential to put the brakes on climate change by burning fewer fossil fuels.

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