Taiwanese engineers have invented a bendable water-enabled portable power bank — a device that generates power from a few drops of water.
The gadget, which last month received the Future Tech Award, utilizes membrane technology to generate electricity from water, a team from National Taiwan University of Science and Technology said in Taipei yesterday.
Yeh Li-hsien (葉禮賢), a professor of chemical engineering at the university, said that the technology was inspired by the circulatory system and the growth rings of trees.
Photo courtesy of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology
As water drops vaporize, the membrane of the device makes use of capillary action to move the water molecules and ions, Yeh said.
The gadget produces 0.8 volts of electricity for four hours from a few droplets of water, enough to recharge a calculator, LED lights and other low-power electronic devices, he said.
The technology could function as a backup energy source for life-saving illumination devices or detectors by utilizing water, or even sweat or urine, he added.
The membrane also has other applications, such as powering filters and anti-bacterial devices in masks or other textiles, Yeh said.
The new gadget is bendable, can be repeatedly used, immediately generates power, is environmentally friendly, highly efficient and capable of continued output over a long duration, as well as being inexpensive and simple to produce, he said.
Team member Chen Wei-ting (陳薇婷), a student at the university, said that the most significant challenge in making the device was quality control, which is essential for stable power generation.
Yeh Shao-hu (葉紹琥), another student, said that the team hopes the gadget could be incorporated into wearable devices.
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