Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) have developed materials that can produce energy from water on a small scale to help households support the concept of decentralisation of energy sources.
In the centralised energy generation model, one large plant produces energy for an entire region. In contrast, the decentralised energy model introduces a large number of small generation devices that can be employed to generate energy in every household.
The excess energy produced in the households can be transported to nearby areas, where there is an excessive need for energy. The researchers of IIT Guwahati employed a nanoscale phenomenon called "electrokinetic streaming potential" to harvest energy from flowing water on a small scale like water flowing through household water taps. Similarly, for "Contrasting Interfacial Activities", different types of semiconducting materials were employed to generate power from stagnant water.
"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," Kalyan Raidongia from Department of Chemistry, IIT Guwahati said.
In order to extract power from stagnant water, devices were fabricated by employing doped graphene flakes. The complementary charge transfer activities of the doped graphene flakes-based devices generate power just upon dipping in any kind of water source like a lake, river or sea.
"We have demonstrated that the power output can be improved by thousand times by attaining the best out of these parameters through biconical nanofluidic channels that interconnect tetrahedral and octahedral voids in the close-packed silica spheres.
"Enhancement in the power density can be brought about through control of multiple parameters such as the diameter of the close-packed spheres, number of the spheres, the contact area of the electrodes, and pH of the streaming water, and the team is currently involved in such optimisation efforts," Raidongia said.