Energy from thin air… who wouldn’t want to have that? A study led by Fernando Galembeck, Ph.D, at University of Campinas in Campinas, Brazil, reveals that you can actually harvest huge amounts static electricity from the atmosphere.
Galembeck and his colleagues used computer simulations that showed what happens when charged dust particles from the air touch water particles (like fog). Tiny particles of silica and aluminum phosphate (dust) have been proved to become more negatively and respectively positively charged in the presence of humidity.
“If we know how electricity builds up and spreads in the atmosphere, we can also prevent death and damage caused by lightning strikes,” Galembeck said, noting that lightning causes thousands of deaths and injuries worldwide and millions of dollars in property damage.
Galembeck called this energy “hygroelectricity.” “This was clear evidence that water in the atmosphere can accumulate electrical charges and transfer them to other materials it comes into contact with,” he explained.
“These are fascinating ideas that new studies by ourselves and by other scientific teams suggest are now possible,” Galembeck said. “We certainly have a long way to go. But the benefits in the long range of harnessing hygroelectricity could be substantial.”
Nikola Tesla was also fascinated by the idea of getting electricity out of thin air. He spent countless days and had a couple of inventions that have actually worked – a hundred years ago.