Energy from Evaporating Water | Power and Energy
Water in nature is in constant transformation. This process has enormous power and energy in it. So far, we have been able to capture energy as water comes down from the clouds but it will be a breakthrough in technology if we could capture energy from evaporating water.
That process is very powerful and we haven’t been able to capture the energy so effectively until now. This is actually a crazy thing to think about making energy in these ways, however, there is a unique lab that brings together chemists, engineers, biologists. Every day is a kind of adventure in the lab, seems pretty exciting to work on such a crazy idea.
Researchers discovered this in spores even though they are known for being just dormant staying put biological species. Bacterial spores typically exist in dry places. When spores see moisture around itself it absorbs some of that moisture, it gets bigger and when it finds a dry environment it shrinks again. This process is very similar to a muscle move, it can expand and contract.
We have worked on bacterial spores for quite a while until this idea struck that their mechanical properties can be useful technologically. We deposit spores on plastic tapes, as you increase the humidity they can get much longer and can contract to a very small size very quickly. When you combine a bunch of tapes together and by increasing the force that they are producing, can be part of our device, Evaporation Engine.
The evaporation engine sits on the surface water and as moisture from the water surface enters the device, it changes the shape of the muscles. The movement of the strip is coupled to shutters. When shutters open the moisture escapes, allowing the material to dry out and shrink.
When the shutters above it are closed, humidity rises making the material expand. And this goes on. Doing this, we can store up the evaporation and release it over time in a controlled fashion to get continuous power output. Such evaporation engines can run both during day and night, normally a less evaporation at night. A great advantage being by blocking the evaporation during the day stores energy in the form of water.
Energy From Evaporating Water: We call another second device as Moisture Mill. It has a wheel with a bunch of spore samples around it and half of the wheel is placed into a humid environment while half of it into a drier environment. Because the spores expand when humidity is high and contracts when humidity is low means that you have a very tiny mass imbalance on the wheel which causes it to push forward for as long as the humidity is high in one half and low in the other.
With this rotating device, this project is opened up a whole new way of thinking and you can take this in so many different directions and come up with so many different ideas. This technology could be extended to off-the-grid applications away from society where one might not have access to the typical electrical infrastructure to integrate into columns. You can sport where that will dynamically respond to. We can make the robot move its arms based on a pool of water that’s standing above. Everywhere we have 70% of earth’s surface covered in water and every single surface is evaporating away but with this technology, we can save lots of water.