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  • Graphene is the wonder material that just keeps on giving. Actually, it's the reported

  • wonder material that keeps on promising it can give but so far has been a bit flakey,

  • promising advances in electronics, fabrics, construction materials, information systems

  • and countless other fields, but singularly failling to deliver commercially viable products.

  • Graphene is great. In fact it's better than the inherently imperfect technology currently

  • used to produce it, which makes it, for now, a bit useless.

  • And now there's yet another incredibly useful thing that graphene has found to be capable

  • of - it can generate electricity from saltwater.

  • A team of researchers from China found that, by placing a droplet of saltwater on a graphene

  • film and then dragging it along, they could generate a small voltage difference. More

  • drops moved faster generated a linear increase in the amount of voltage producecd.

  • So what's caused it? Well the team foudn that when the drop was still, the charge distribution

  • between the graphene on either side of the drop was equal. When it moved, it created

  • a charge difference - the electrons desorbing from one side of the strip and absorbed into

  • the graphene at the other.

  • This means that with a regular flow of salt water over the strip, a constant, potentially

  • useful charge can be created. The amounts are pretty small - in the test, one droplet

  • created about 30 millivolts. But it can be scaled up, with some serious advantages. Most

  • hydroelectric and tidal power systems are monumental engineering feats, requiring millions

  • of tonnes of concrete and large scale destruction of ecosystems and shorelines.

  • Nano materials such as graphene require much less engineering and infrastructure, and therefore

  • damage. And because graphene can be created from more or less anything carbon based, from

  • wood to dog poo, it would be relatively cost effective too.

  • But like all other graphene related advances, manufacturing is the major stumbling block.

  • We simply can't make enough graphene in large, continuous quantities to be industrially viable.

  • Yet.

Graphene is the wonder material that just keeps on giving. Actually, it's the reported

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