Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered a way to harvest energy from humidity in the air, essentially pulling energy directly from the air.
Last year, Nenad Mijikovic and Evelyn Wang discovered that when water droplets jumped off of a hydrophobic surface, they could acquire an electric charge. This year, however, Mijikovic and Wang have found a way to capture that electric charge and convert it into usable power.
The two researchers set out to find a more efficient way to transfer heat energy in a power plant, and discovered this particular method on accident.
The generator they have created is astoundingly simple, consisting of two metal plates and no moving parts. Each metal plate is coated with a substance that either attracts or repels water. The generator takes advantage of the fact that water will flow away from a hydrophobic surface and toward a hydrophilic surface.
Right now, this water condensing generator cannot provide enough energy to power a home or even a single room in a home, but the research has potential to evolve into a significant and useful method.