A group of scientists from Columbia University have created machines that harness the power of evaporating water, tapping in to an area largely ignored.
A floating, piston-driven engine that generates electricity to make a light flash and a rotary engine that drives a miniature car both use the process, with the exception of the car starter, everything runs purely on water. Researchers at Columbia University in New York said that evaporating water could one day produce electricity from giant floating power generators that sit in bays and reservoirs or from huge rotating machines, similar to above-the-water wind turbines.
Ozgur Sahin, an associate professor of biological sciences and physics at Columbia and the paper’s lead author, said: “Evaporation is a fundamental force of nature. It’s everywhere and it’s more powerful than other forces like wind and waves.”
Last year, Sahin observed that when bacteria shrink and swell with changing humidity, they can push and pull other objects together, and now he and his team have built functioning devices that draw energy from water.