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Published on January 12th, 2013 | by James Ayre

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Generating Electricity With Water Vapor, New Material Created

January 12th, 2013 by  

A new type of polymer film has been created that generates electricity when it’s exposed to water vapor. The material, which changes shape when it absorbs water, repeatedly curling up and down, was created by researchers at MIT.

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By utilizing the continuous motion that the material makes, it will be possible to power “robotic limbs or generate enough electricity to power micro- and nanoelectronic devices, such as environmental sensors,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology notes.

“With a sensor powered by a battery, you have to replace it periodically. If you have this device, you can harvest energy from the environment so you don’t have to replace it very often,” says Mingming Ma, a postdoc at MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and lead author of a paper describing the new material in the January 11 issue of Science.

The researchers expect that, as higher efficiencies are reached with the technology, a range of potential applications will be possible, including large-scale, water-vapor-powered generators.

The new material was just described in detail in a paper published January 11th in the journal Science.

This looks like an interesting technology — I’m curious to see how far it will go. It certainly seems as though there will be effective ways to utilize it, increasing the autonomy and lifespan of a variety of different systems and products. Any thoughts on this research or topic? Have you read about anything along these lines previously? 
 
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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



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