WaterNew findings indicate that water drops have the ability to generate a small amount of electricity. A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has revealed that during condensation, water droplets spontaneously move away from superhydrophobic surfaces, creating an electric charge in the process. This new discovery could charge electronic devices while producing clean water.

In the future, smartphones could contain a variety of interleaved metal plates that could be constructed from inexpensive aluminum. Droplets can jump from one plate to the other and carry a charge, which could be harnessed if the plates are linked using external circuits. The difference in charge could be used to provide power to a number of devices.

For practical application, two different arrays of metal plates that mimic fins on a radiator would need to be interleaved so they are extremely close but not touching. The Earth’s atmosphere is a major source of power to provide a charge given that the temperature differs between the air and the electronic device.

The temperature change produces condensation, similar to water condensing from hot, humid air on cold glass. This idea was previously discovered by two researchers who determined that droplets can convert service energy to kinetic energy while merging to form larger droplets on a superhydrophobic surface. This often results in droplets that spontaneously jump away, thus enhancing heat transfer by up to 30 percent when compared to other techniques.

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