Chinese scientists Designs Powerful Droplet Based Nanogenerator

The tiny device which was inspired by electric ray fish, can light up more than 1,260 LED bulbs, each rated above three volts, with a single discharge, they claimed.

Chinese scientists Designs Powerful Droplet Based Nanogenerator

With an output of 3,000 volts, Chinese researchers claim to have created the most potent droplet-based nanogenerator to date. The team reported their findings in a paper that was peer-reviewed and published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.

The tiny device, Droplet Based Nanogenerator, which was inspired by electric ray fish, can light up more than 1,260 LED bulbs, each rated above three volts, with a single discharge, they claimed.

The device used an alternative energy source to achieve 1,600 volts, breaking the previous record of 237 volts held by a droplet-based nanogenerator, according to the researchers.

Song Qunliang and Guo Hengyu from the Southwest University Institute for Clean Energy and Advanced Materials and the Chongqing University State Key Laboratory of Power Transmission Equipment, System Security, and New Technology, respectively, served as the study’s principal investigators.

Nanogenerators are tiny electronic chips that transform mechanical signals into electricity, such as minute physical movements or raindrops. Typically, they are based on solid-liquid contact electrification, a natural phenomenon that produces lightning and static electricity.

Conventional nanogenerators create alternating current using displacement current, a hypothetical phenomenon connected to the creation of magnetic fields by time-varying electric fields.

The total current triboelectric nanogenerator (TC-TENG) developed by the Chinese team significantly boosts the energy extracted by using both displacement current and actual conduction current as driving forces.

Song claimed that the TC-design TENG’s were influenced by the way electric rays employ electricity as a weapon to stun and kill prey while avoiding self-harm. “In the TC-TENG, each microdrop corresponds to a cell in a ray’s electrical organ. Because a single cell produces relatively little power, an electric ray cannot effectively stun prey or defend itself ” he said.

However, a transient heavy electric discharge is produced when more than 1,000 power generation units form an ordered columnar array, and then the power stored in the array is simultaneously released via neural control.

The team created a water charge shuttle architecture, according to Song, to transport the microdrops between the electrodes of the device and deliver negative and positive charges successively through careful control of its own hydrodynamics.

When the voltage reaches a certain point, the charges are continuously delivered until a neural-like controller, resembling the nervous system of an electric ray, starts the discharge process.

The controller turns off when the voltage across the TC-TENG falls, at which point a new cycle of energy storage and power release begins. Power generation, conversion, and storage are all included in the bionic design as a single unit. According to the paper, the TC-TENG has a small array architecture, high-voltage direct current (DC) output, and controllable energy release.

Song said in a statement in the paper, “TC-TENG has an ultra-high output voltage and unparalleled capability for harvesting high-entropy water energy.”

China has emerged as the world leader in the field of nanogenerators in the 20 years since their invention, but despite recent advancements, it is still unlikely that they will one day serve as a reliable source of energy.

Nanogenerators could, however, be used to detect leaks of acid and alkali in chemical plants because they convert mechanical signals into electricity. “Because droplets can only carry so much energy, using nanogenerators as a power source is still implausible. But for applications involving sensing, we have more than enough,” said Song.

In addition to collecting energy, the device could be used to detect liquids. To further investigate the potential of the TC-TENG in energy harvesting devices, the team will build on its existing research.

The paper claims that the TC-TENG is suitable for real-world applications due to its affordable price and straightforward structure. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) plates, readily available copper electrodes, platinum wires, and copper electrodes make up the device.