Water evaporation as a power source

  1. Issue: Energy and water

The number one source of energy uses fossil fuels, which are natural resources that are increasingly becoming scarce. It is difficult for new potential sources of energy to be created in a sustainable way that reuses a natural resource. The issue regarding water is the environmental problem of smaller bodies of water becoming evaporated and nonexistent.

  1. Water evaporation as a power source


  • Columbia University researchers are working on an energy source using water vapor. Water evaporation is a form of solar energy and, on a small scale, can be harnessed and then utilized to power small devices.
  • Researchers are using bacteria that naturally absorbs water really well. When the bacteria absorbs water, it swells; when it loses water, it contracts. This acts as a small muscle, which the team is using to power the small machines.
  • While at the beginning stages, this has the potential to be extremely effective due to the very low cost of the project.
  1. Stakeholders: energy utilities, homeowners, energy consumers, etc.
  1. In order to deploy this technology, researchers would have to genetically modify the spores used so they do not germinate into bacteria. Then, an in-land body of water, i.e. a reservoir, would need to be covered with a water evaporation-powered machine. This will lead to two advantages: the power generated from the machine and the slowing down of the evaporation process for the body of water.


One thought on “Water evaporation as a power source

  1. The idea, in its beginning stages, is not expected to revolutionize transport or other high-power applications. However, because it is so low-cost, it could potentially provide the small power needed in remote places to operate communication devices. A major caveat is that the spores will have to be genetically modified to not germinate into bacteria. If they do, the machines would no longer work.


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