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monday :: november 17, 2003
electrokinetic cells: new source of energy

A team of researchers in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Alberta has discovered a new way of generating electricity from flowing water.

Research reveals a new method of generating electric power by harnessing the natural electrokinetic properties of a liquid such as ordinary tap water when it is pumped through tiny microchannels. The research team in Edmonton, Canada, has created a new source of clean non-polluting electric power with a variety of possible uses, ranging from powering small electronic devices to contributing to a national power grid.

The research, led by professors Daniel Kwok and Larry Kostiuk, started as a simple conversation between Kostiuk, a thermodynamicist, and Kwok, a nanofabrication researcher. With the assistance of two graduate students, the team was able to illuminate a real light bulb by exploiting the coupling between electrokinetic phenomena and the hydrodynamics of liquid flow.

David T. Lynch, Dean of the Faculty, praised the team for rigor and creativity. "The discovery of an entirely new way of producing power is an incredible fundamental research breakthrough. It has been more than 160 years since the last such fundamental discoveries that have now led to the current applications associated with solar cells and fuel cells. This groundbreaking discovery of an electrokinetic effect that can generate electricity could be equally revolutionary. It will earn these engineering researchers and the University of Alberta a place of prominence in scientific journals and textbooks for decades to come and electrokinetic cells may find significant applications in numerous commercial areas." >from *Let water power your cell phone? University of Alberta engineering researchers discover new source of electricity*. October 20, 2003

related context
STMicroelectronics announces advanced r&d program targeting low cost solar cells . applying nanotechnology to the development of new solar cell technologies that will eventually be able to compete commercially with conventional electricity generation methods. september 30, 2003
> full spectrum solar cell: unexpected discovery. november 25, 2002
> energy for greenhouse planet: towards a global energy system. november 13, 2002
> microbes to produce power: electricity from organic matter. january 22, 2002

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