A new report from Columbia University has claimed that energy harvested from evaporation of water in US lakes and reservoirs could provide power for about 70 per cent of the country.
Its ‘evaporation engine’ draws power from the expansion and contraction of bacterial spores in the presence of humidity. The spores are placed on plastic strips, and collectively these strips act like muscles, opening and closing a shutter to control humidity while also providing a continuous source of power.
“We have the technology to harness energy from wind, water and the sun, but evaporation is just as powerful,” said Columbia biophysicist Ozgur Sahin, the study’s senior author. “We can now put a number on its potential.”
Having proven the concept in the lab, the team has now extrapolated how much energy could theoretically be produced if evaporation engines were used on bodies of water across the US.