A novel way of producing electricity from water has been developed, scientists at Delhi’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) at room temperature without using any power or chemicals. A device named “Hydroelectric Cell” generates electricity using nothing except a few drops of water. Chief Scientist Dr. R.K. Kotnala and his research partner Dr. Jyoti Shah of NPL demonstrated, this panel can generate up to about a quarter ampere current at a little less than one volt.
They used Nanoporous magnesium ferrite to split water into hydronium (H3O) and hydroxide (OH) ions, silver and zinc as electrodes to make a cell that produces electricity. The hydroelectric cell that uses magnesium ferrite of 1 sq. inch size produces 8 mA current and 0.98 volt. According to a paper published in the International Journal of Energy Research, magnesium ferrite of 2-inch diameter produces 82 mA current and 0.9 volt. Now, the hydroelectric cell material design has been improved and a 2-inch diameter material generates 150 mA current and 0.9V.
“When we connect four cells [of 2-inch diameter] in series the voltage increase to 3.70 volts and we can operate a small plastic fan or a LED light of 1 watt”, says Dr. Kotnala, Chief Scientist. “At a stretch, we can operate the LED for one week as zinc hydroxide, which forms at the anode, gets into the nanopores of magnesium ferrite and reduces its activity.”
Since magnesium has high affinity for hydroxide, it spontaneously splits or dissociates water into hydronium and hydroxide ions. The Hydronium ions gets trapped inside the nanopores of magnesium ferrite and generater an electric field. The electric field helps in further dissociation of water.
This device is much economical than solar panel, may revolutionize the energy generation scenario. The device has already been patented and published in an international journal. The efforts are on to shape it in a convenient form like dry cell and to improve in terms of longevity and electrical contacts, said the scientists.