Researchers develop materials to generate power from water

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have developed new materials that can generate power from both stagnant and flowing water.
These new ways of producing energy on a small scale can be employed in household environments to support decentralisation of energy sources, according to the research published in the journal ACS Applied Nanomaterials.
The researchers employed the nanoscale phenomenon called “electrokinetic streaming potential” to harvest energy from flowing water on a small scale, like water flowing through household water taps.
They used another process called “contrasting interfacial activities” in which different types of semiconducting materials were employed to generate power from stagnant water.
A research team led by Kalyan Raidongia, from the Department of Chemistry at IIT Guwahati, noted that the impending energy crisis has arisen from the dual problems of dwindling fossil fuel reserves and environmental issues associated with the use of such fuel.
This has led to considerable research in alternative energy sources such as light, heat, wind, ocean waves, etc, the researchers said.
The generation of energy from water in various forms — river flow, ocean tides, stagnant water, and even raindrops, is now known as “blue energy,” they said.
One out-of-the-box blue source is electrokinetic energy.
“When fluids stream through tiny channels that are charged, they can generate an electrical voltage, which may be harnessed through miniaturised generators,” said Raidongia.
Although the exploration of such electrokinetic phenomena and their possible use for energy conversion have been known for over half a century, they have not been harnessed because of low efficiency arising from the unsuitability of channels for the fluid stream.