Potential of Water‐Responsive Materials to Harvest Energy from Evaporation

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Water-responsive materials swell and shrink in response to changes in relative humidity (RH) and can be potentially used to harvest energy from evaporating water. Here, we investigated the potential of harvesting energy from naturally evaporating water due to typical weather conditions across the United States. We modeled the power output, the effect on evaporation rate, and the intermittency of the power output. We first performed steady state calculations over a range of 218 locations across the United States and determined the average energy flux and net water savings due to a reduction in evaporation rates. We then used a non-steady state mass and energy balance approach on three test locations of South-East NY, Western TX, and South-East CA to determine daily and yearly variations in power output. Our calculations show that this system can deliver power densities surpassing wind power and comparable to current installed solar systems. These results suggest that further research into water-responsive materials and devices can provide major benefits in developing a novel renewable energy platform.

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Journal: TechConnect Briefs
Volume: 2, Materials for Energy, Efficiency and Sustainability: TechConnect Briefs 2015
Published: June 14, 2015
Pages: 215 - 217
Industry sector: Energy & Sustainability
Topic: Solar Technologies
ISBN: 978-1-4987-4728-8