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The new device generates electricity from moisture, and scientists from Singapore are leading MEG technology forward with innovative development

Researchers working with Tan Swee Ching (center) with a new type of MEG device. Photo: National University of Singapore (NUS)

The new device generates electricity from moisture, and scientists from Singapore are leading MEG technology forward with innovative development

Singapore, August 19, 2022

Researchers at the #National #University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a thin, self-charging device that generates electricity from moisture in the air. It consists of a layer of fabric only 0.3 millimeters wide, sea salt, carbon ink, and a water-absorbing gel. The article on the study was published in the journal Advanced Materials.

High applicability

The new Moisture Controlled Generator (MEG) works thanks to the capabilities of the different materials. Thus, according to #NUS #researchers, it has potential for many applications, including self-powered devices such as wearable electronic devices, #health monitoring tools, electronic skin sensors, and information storage devices. Challenges to MEG techniques include saturation of the device with water when exposed to ambient moisture and insufficient electrical performance.

Until now, the electricity generated by conventional MEG devices has not been sufficient to power electrical devices. In addition, it is not sustainable. To overcome these problems, NUS# researchers from the School of Design and Engineering, led by Tan Sui Ching, developed the new MEG device. It has two zones with different properties to permanently maintain the difference in water content between zones. This is how #electricity is created and at the same time electrical energy is enabled for hundreds of hours.

textile “battery”

The thin tissue layer of the MEG device was coated with carbon nanoparticles. The scientists use a commercially available fabric made from wood pulp and polyester. The wet area of ​​the cloth is covered with a hygroscopic ionic hydrogel. Made with sea salt, the water-absorbing gel can absorb more than six times its original weight and draw moisture from the air. The other end of the cloth is the dry area because it does not have a hygroscopic ionic hydrogel layer.

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The MEG# device generates electricity as sea salt ions are separated while absorbing water in the wet area. Free positively charged ions are absorbed by the carbon nanoparticles, which are negatively charged. This changes the surface of the fabric. An electric field is created on the surface. These surface changes also give tissues the ability to store electricity for later use.

#Electric performance #Stable

With a unique arrangement of wet and dry areas, NUS researchers maintained a high water content in the wet area and a low water content in the dry area. As a result, the electrical output remains constant even when the wet area is saturated with water. After 30 days in an open and humid environment, the water content in the wet area was maintained, which indicates the efficacy of the device in maintaining electrical performance.

“With this unique asymmetric structure, the electrical performance of our MEG device is significantly improved compared to previous MEG technologies, allowing it to power many common electronic devices such as health monitors and wearable electronic devices,” Tan explains. The MEG device also shows a high degree of flexibility and can withstand loads caused by torsion, rolling and bending.