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The search for renewable energy sources, which include wind, solar, hydroelectric dams, geothermal, and biomass, has preoccupied scientists and policymakers alike, due to their enormous potential in the fight against climate change. A new Tel Aviv University study finds that water vapor in the atmosphere may serve as a potential renewable energy source in the future.

The research, led by Prof. Colin Price in collaboration with Prof. Hadas Saaroni and doctoral student Judi Lax, all of TAU's Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, is based on the discovery that electricity materializes in the interaction between water molecules and metal surfaces. It was published in Scientific Reports on May 6, 2020.

"We sought to capitalize on a naturally occurring phenomenon: electricity from water," explains Prof. Price. "Electricity in thunderstorms is generated only by water in its different phases -- water vapor, water droplets, and ice. Twenty minutes of cloud development is how we get from water droplets to huge electric discharges -- lightning -- some half a mile in length."

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Category: Science