Biophysicist Harnesses Power of Evaporation, Discovers Potential New Source of Renewable Energy

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - 14:45
An evaporation harvesting device made of Legos, a spore-coated rubber sheet, a coil and a magnet. The device produces electricity when sheet bends and straightens in response to moisture. Image Credit: Xi Chen/Columbia University

Legos may seem like an unlikely foundation for scientific research, but the building blocks have been a part of Ozgur Sahin’s work since he made a mechanical adding device with them when he was 11. Now Sahin, associate professor of biological sciences and physics, has developed a new machine using the blocks – a prototype generator that can harness the energy of evaporation. “The biggest form of energy transfer in nature is evaporation,” said Sahin. “Our climate is powered by evaporating water from the oceans, and we have no direct way of accessing this energy.” The basis of Sahin’s research is the bacteria Bacillus, microorganisms commonly found in soil. [Read the rest of this article.]

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