Bubble Energy Generator

Air power plus water power equals… BUBBLE POWER?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Who doesn’t love blowing bubbles? It takes ENERGY though. So where does that energy go when they POP? Can we harness it?

As a bubble forms, the gas inside pushes against the surrounding liquid. This is a type of stored energy. The bubble transfers energy to a new surface with another push–a POP!

But most bubbles inside a LIQUID are REALLY small. That gave Xiantong Yan and team at City University of Hong Kong a FIZZY idea! To generate a useful amount of electricity, they captured a LOT of bubbles. 

Using an air pump, researchers pumped bubbles through water. They bumped into a surface the team designed. Whenever a bubble POPPED, it pushed tiny electrons inside the surface, creating electricity. The researchers were able to use this electricity to light up LEDs! Now they plan to use bubbles to efficiently power underwater electronics!

Bubbles could be a POP-ular energy source, if we don’t blow it!

Reference: Yan, X., Xu, W., Deng, Y., Zhang, C., Zheng, H., Yang, S., Song, Y., Li, P., Xu, X., Hu, Y., Zhang, L., Yang, Z., Wang, S., & Wang, Z. (2022). Bubble energy generator. Science Advances, 8(25). https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abo7698