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Researchers at the City University of Hong Kong have been utilizing triboelectricity and a Teflon coated surface in order to generate an electric charge from raindrops. They have managed to develop a device that can harvest energy from water droplets by using polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) film on an indium tin oxide substrate and an aluminum electrode.

Triboelectricity, meaning friction electricity in Greek, is a certain type of electrification in which certain materials become electrically charged once they are separated from a different material in which they were in physical contact with. Static electricity is a common form of triboelectricity. Most often, scientists study how to avoid triboelectric effects. For example, NASA scientists are concerned about the possible ramifications of static electricity created by sand on Mars when the first astronauts land there. However, there are also practical applications for harnessing the power of triboelectricity.

Ocean wave generators utilize the natural friction of waves with nanogenerators to generate triboelectric energy. However, triboelectric energy isn’t so straightforward, harvesting energy from the process generally involves many complicated and intersecting variables that can change.

The scientists working at the City University of Hong Kong have created energy from raindrops with the help of triboelectricity. Popularmechanics.com reports that the scientists have mentioned that previous versions of their idea have not been very efficient, since many sources of renewable energy lack efficiency due to the limitation of our current technology.

The team of researchers have discovered that when simulated raindrops fell on their device, the water would accumulate and spread in such a way that it would establish a link between their two electrodes, one made from aluminum and the other is coated in Teflon. This water link closes the loop and allows for energy to move through the device.

Raindrop energy is considered a low-frequency form of energy source. This means that researchers will continue to work to integrate several forms of low-frequency energy sources in order to have a large enough supply of energy from renewable and clean sources.