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Raindrops Could Soon be Used as a Renewable Energy Source

David Paul

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renewable energy rain

Researchers have developed a generator that has the potential to turn water droplets into renewable energy.

Rain can be used as an effective tool in the creation of renewable energy, according to researchers in Hong Kong.

City University of Hong Kong (CityU) research team has developed a generator that uses a field-effect transistor-style structure to produce electricity from rain droplets.

The design connects an aluminium electrode with an indium tin oxide electrode layered with PTFE, a material with a “quasi-permanent” electric charge. When rain hits this surface, it bridges the two electrodes and creates a closed-loop circuit, helping to release any stored charges.

Professor Wang Zuankai, from CityU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, said: “Our research shows that a drop of 100 micro-litres [1 micro-litre = one-millionth litre] of water released from a height of 15 cm can generate a voltage of over 140V, and the power generated can light up 100 small LED lights.”

The research is a potentially ground-breaking achievement in the science community’s efforts to tackle the energy crisis.

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In its current form, the generator can only produce a small burst of energy. The researchers will now look at how to produce a continuous generation of power over a sustained period – something the team believes is possible.

Professor Wang thinks that, in the future, the technology could be installed onto different surfaces where a liquid contacts with a surface, such as the hull of a boat or even smart umbrellas and water bottles.

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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