Saturday, January 10, 2004

The Power of Water

A classic method of electricity generation, hydroelectricity, employs water (and gravity) to mechanically drive turbines. The newest method proposed to generate electricity also uses water: University of Alberta researchers have devised an electrokinetic method in which water dripped through about 450,000 microscopic channels in a ceramic filter causes positive and negative charges to build up, while electrical current is conducted along a pair of wire coils attached to the filter. The process produces only tiny amounts of electricity, but it could be enough to power small electronic devices. The next step may be the development of "electrokinetic cells", analagous to solar cells or fuel cells, to construct an environmentally clean battery that would run in any condition -- no sun or light is required, and there is no need to spend energy to separate hydrogen from oxygen, as is required by fuel cells.

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