MIT scientists find a way to power your mobile using water dew

Scientists at MIT University have found a way to harness the power of water dew to charge your mobile phone.

The research team discovered that when water condenses on specially treated copper plates it jumps back and forth between them. Doing this jumping movement allows it to pick up an electrical charge. This discovery was made last year.

Now scientists have developed a way to harness that charge using superhydrophobic surfaces. The device uses interleaved flat metal plates to produce power from the water dew in the air. Initial tests have produced small amounts of power, at 15 picowatts, or  trillionths of a watt. But this can be tuned easily, says postdoc Nenad Milijkovic heading the project, to produce at least 1 microwatt.

While this small amount of power isn’t going to replace your charger, or keep it powered all day, it will be useful in more remote locations where no other power source is available and time isn't too much of an issue. A charger the size of a coolbox lid should be able to fully charge a phone in 12 hours.

Miljkovic says. “Water will condense out from the atmosphere, it happens naturally. The atmosphere is a huge source of power, and all you need is a temperature difference between the air and the device."

While we don't expect this charger to be on sale anytime soon it's yet another great way to harness energy there for the taking. Combined with waste heat and vibration energy it could, one day, mean batteries never need active charging again.

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