Moisture-based energy prototype exceeds solar cell power

Diagram depicting layers of the Energy Ink moisture-based renewable energy technology
Image: Strategic Elements

Strategic Elements has announced that its renewable energy technology, Energy Ink, has achieved unprecedented power density from moisture in the air.

Energy Ink takes moisture from the air—humidity—and converts it into electrical power.
Power density is a measure of how much power can be produced in a given area and is a crucial metric for comparing emerging technologies with established systems. In laboratory conditions, a 1cm2 prototype high-power Energy Ink cell successfully exceeded the power density of solar cells used in commercial solar panels.

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Technologies like the Energy Ink that use moisture as a high-power energy source have significant technical issues in low power density, short duration and material degradation. Thus, there has been a preconception that moisture is only suitable for small devices.

Strategic Elements says Energy Ink was successfully re-engineered to achieve a significant 1,000-fold increase in power density in under 12 months. This achievement challenges the conventional notion that moisture is limited to powering small devices.

Australian Advanced Materials and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have worked together on printed electronics over many years and were awarded a prestigious Australian Research Council Linkage Grant to progress moisture as an energy source for wearables.

“We are very excited that the Energy Ink has achieved such high power density at this early stage. We believe there is still great potential to improve the device performance further and aim to scale up in the near future,” UNSW Professor Dewei Chu said.

Strategic Elements managing director Charles Murphy said, “Our early-stage achievement expands the potential of the Energy Ink beyond small devices. The 1,000-fold increase in power density in under 12 months represents a leap forward in harnessing moisture as an energy source. It is a testament to the dedication of the AAM/UNSW team.

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“Achieving the required power and duration of high-power cells, as well as upscaling fabrication of numerous cells and electrodes, are formidable challenges for the Energy Ink. Notwithstanding this, we have set an ambitious goal for the coming year. That is, to generate energy from moisture in an apartment building parking bay overnight, store a small charge into an electric vehicle and drive it away.”

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