A New Bio-Polymer Film Generates Electricity From Water Vapor (+VIDEO)
A team of researchers at MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research have created a new bio-polymer film that is an energy-harvesting material, converting water vapor to energy. The bio-film is made of an interlocking network of two different separate polymers: polypyrrole, which forms a hard but flexible matrix that provides structural support, and polyol-borate – a soft gel which swells when it absorbs water. The film changes its shape as it absorbs evaporated water; it curls and unfurls it drives robotic limbs, which in turn generate enough electricity to power micro- and nanoelectronic devices. The mechanical energy generated by the material can also be converted into electricity by coupling the polymer film with a piezoelectric material, which converts mechanical stress into an electric charge. As a result it would generate an average power of 5.6 nanowatts that can also be stored. Researchers hope that the new bio-film will be put to use in water-vapor-powered generators, or smaller generators for wearable electronics.