Energy from evaporation? Maybe...

- Agence France-Presse, PARIS

Sep 27, 2017-

Evaporation, the process that dries washing on the line and supplies clouds with rain water, could one day produce vast stores of clean energy, researchers suggested on Tuesday.

Exploiting this natural process could generate up to 325 gigawatts of power over existing lakes and reservoirs in the United States, equivalent to about 70 percent of the country’s electricity generation in 2015, they wrote in the journal Nature Communications. 

There is only one problem: the technology to harvest this power does not exist. 

“A device that is placed at the air-water interface would be needed to capture this energy,” study co-author Ozgur Sahin of Columbia University in New York told AFP. 

“Moisture that is coming out of the water body would first go into the device before reaching the atmosphere,” he said. “The technology has to be developed.”

For their study, Sahin and a team relied on models of the energy-generating potential of evaporation, which is the process by which liquid water turns into gas, or vapour. 

They looked at the impacts of humidity, wind speed and temperature on evaporation rates, and assumed the availability of devices to capture the energy produced as a result. 

The scientists then calculated the potential of evaporation from water bodies in the United States larger than 100,000 square metres (1 million square feet), other than the Great Lakes.

The findings warrant further research into technology to convert energy from evaporation, the researchers said. 

Published: 27-09-2017 06:27

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