This potential source of energy could prove challenging to produce electricity, yet many researchers have attempted to produce power from water droplets. In the U.S and Hong Kong, energy researchers have so far achieved 140 volts of power through a single raindrop, which is equivalent to 100 LED bulbs.
Wang Zuankai of Hong Kong’s CityU shares his experience:
Our research shows that a drop of 100 microlitres of water released from a height of 15 centimetres [5.9 inches] can generate a voltage of over 140V, and the power generated can light up 100 small LED lights.
The whole concept is not exactly new to us but according to experts they are getting somewhere with newer methods. Although we are not producing enough power from droplets, we’ve improved significantly when it comes to efficiency.
The fact of the matter is that the physics of converting raindrops into electricity is harder than producing energy from flowing streams.
These expert engineers used a special material, – tetrafluoroethylene or PTFE – a hydrophobic polymer which is able to collect a surface charge as water droplets continuously hit it until it reaches saturation. As the droplets hit the coating and spread, the droplets connect 2 electrodes, “an aluminium electrode and indium tin oxide electrode”. This connection creates a closed-loop circuit that ejects collected energy on to the surface material – the droplets act as resistors and the surface coating acts as a capacitor.
Xiao Cheng Zeng of the Nebraska-Lincoln University expresses:
The significance of this technology is the much enhanced electric power per falling rain droplet, which makes the device much more efficient to convert energy from a falling droplet to electricity.
Without a doubt, the world of renewable energy is becoming even more fascinating than ever before. With basic technology available for converting raindrops into electricity, the challenge now is to boost this technology to make rainwater a practical alternative to emission-producing power generation systems.