Hygroelectricity

Facts for Prelims

Hygroelectricity

News: Researchers are exploring the concept of hygroelectricity, which involves harvesting electricity from humid air.

What is Hygroelectricity?
• Hygroelectricity is a type of static electricity that forms on water droplets and can be transferred from droplets to small dust particles. The phenomenon is common in the earth’s atmosphere but has also been observed in the steam escaping from boilers.
• Hygroelectric charge is the likely source of the electric charge which, under certain conditions such as exist in thunderstorms, volcanic eruptions and some dust storms, gives rise to lightning.

Application of Hygroelectricity:
• Energy harvesting - Hygroelectricity can be used to power small electronic devices and sensors without the need for batteries or wires. For example, a team at the Lisbon-based Catcher Project have generated a 1.5V 10mA current using a 4cm device that captures the electric charge from water droplets in the air.
• Environmental sensing - Hygroelectricity can be used to measure the humidity and temperature of the air, as well as the presence of pollutants or pathogens. For example, a device called HygroScope can detect changes in relative humidity by using hygroelectric sensors made of wood veneer. 

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