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Finally Realizing Nikola Tesla’s Pure Energy Design?

Scientists have dreamed of generating power from thin air for more than a century. Nikola Tesla was already experimenting with these lines in the 1930s, but more recently, calls for pure energy design have intensified. Getting away from fossil fuels in time to avoid the worst of the climate crisis would be the greatest collaborative endeavor the world has ever attempted, and necessity has led scientists to dream big. Some of the resulting voices from brainstorming and experimentation are pulled from the pages of a science fiction novel, or sound wishful thinking rather than methodical. But scientists are getting closer and closer to achieving the impossible: harvesting energy from the air.

In 2021, researchers from the American University of Massachusetts in Amherst announced that they had invented A device called Air-gen, short for pneumatic generator. The device is able to use a natural protein to convert moisture in the surrounding air to generate electricity. This is done with a film made of protein nanowires from the bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens. The research team said the technology “could have exciting implications for the future of renewable energy, climate change and the future of medicine”. The film, which is only a few microns thick, has proven effective. Researcher and paper author Jun Yao explained: “We literally make electricity out of thin air. Air-gen generates clean energy around the clock.

A year later, in 2022, the European Union begins financing a new project – called Catch – which also aims to generate energy from atmospheric moisture, but this time through the use of cells made of zirconium oxide, a ceramic material used in all kinds of applications, from dental implants to nuclear fuel rods. “Exploring the properties of zirconium oxide nanomaterials seven years ago, researchers began to see evidence of hydropower,” said the European Commission’s Horizon magazine. mentioned in December. Over the past seven years, they have come a long way, but the technology is still very far from scalability and practicality. Currently, an 8 by 5 centimeter piece of its material can generate about 0.9 volts in the lab with a humidity of about 50%, or about half the power of an AA battery.

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This year again, scientists from Monash University in Australia made a new breakthrough in the field of air energy. This time the main article an enzyme called Huc. The enzyme is found in Mycobacterium smegmatis, a cousin of the bacteria responsible for tuberculosis and leprosy. Huc is truly an energy center for converting air into energy, which bacteria use to generate energy in extreme environments with few other energy sources.

Once extracted, the researchers say the enzyme can be used to power “a range of small, portable electrical devices.” […] Including biosensors, environmental monitors, digital clocks and calculators or simple computers. “So far, the various applications of Huc are more of a thought experiment than a tested hypothesis, but the scientists responsible believe that Huc has the potential to achieve greatness.” “When you provide it with more concentrated hydrogen, it produces more electric current,” said lead author Rhys Grinter. “Which means you can use it in fuel cells to power more complex devices, like smartwatches or smartphones, more complex laptop computers, and maybe even a car.”

Air-to-air projects are clearly still in their infancy, but it would be hard to exaggerate the potential ramifications if any of these technologies become scalable. Generating energy from nothing would solve countless problems related to climate change and other negative environmental externalities related to energy production. Moreover, technology like the bacterial enzyme could theoretically be accessed anywhere in the world, making the geopolitics of energy production more equitable and decentralized. In short, it could disrupt the global economy as we know it. day.

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By Haley Zaremba for

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