Looking for alternate sources of energy? Look no further than the water in your home, to generate power on a small scale.
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati researchers have developed materials to produce small amount of energy from water.
These new ways of producing energy can be employed in households to support the concept of decentralisation of energy sources. The study aimed to find ways to generate power from both stagnant and flowing water.
A research team led by Kalyan Raidongia, department of chemistry, IIT Guwahati, along with his research team comprising Jumi Deka, Kundan Saha, Suresh Kumar and Hemant Kumar Srivastava, worked on this research.
Their findings were recently published in the journal ACS Applied Nanomaterials and made public on Monday through a statement issued by the institute.
In the centralised energy-generation model, one large plant produces energy for an entire region.
In contrast, the decentra-lised energy model introduces a large number of small-generation devices that can be employed in every household. The excess energy produced in households can be transported to nearby areas where there is an excessive need for energy.
The researchers of IIT Guwahati employed the nano-scale phenomenon called electrokinetic streaming potential to harvest energy from flowing water on the small length scale like water flowing through household water taps.
Similarly, different types of semi-conducting materials were employed to generate power from stagnant water.
The impending energy crisis that has arisen from dwindling fossil fuel reserves and environmental issues associated with the use of such fuel, has led to considerable research in alternative energy sources such as light, heat, wind and ocean waves.
The generation of energy from water in various forms — river flow, ocean tides, stagnant water, and even raindrops — is now known as blue energy. While hydroelectric power from rivers is the traditional form of blue energy, there have been efforts to harness the power of water in other ways in recent years.
One out-of-the-box blue source is electrokinetic energy.
“When fluids stream through tiny channels that are charged, they can generate an electrical voltage, which may be harnessed through miniaturised generators,” said Raidongia.
“We use a lot of stagnant and flowing water in our daily lives,” said Raidongia.
Water stored in buckets and flowing from taps can potentially be used to produce energy if such nano-generators can be developed further.
While the power generated currently is too small for practical applications, research such as that by Raidongia’s team brings technology a step closer to realising simple, safe and reliable alternative power sources that can eventually reduce the load on the centralised grid, and contribute to energy self-sufficiency.