Researchers at Columbia University have developed two devices capable of generating a renewable form of electricity from evaporation at a small scale. The devices could be built larger scale and eventually create a form of energy that is not only completely renewable, but keeps moisture close to earth as evaporation increases with climate change.

Led by Ozgur Sahin, PhD, the new research piggybacks off his recently published paper that outlined the use of spores to generate energy from evaporation. Two devices have been developed so far. The first is a small device that uses small paper strips much like those seen on VHS or Cassette tape to harness humidity. The repetitive motion of straightening and shrinking the strips when exposed to humidity was enough to create light flicker. The second machine resembles a miniature turbine and similarly reacts to humidity to produce energy.

If built on a larger scale, these two models could one day become a major source of energy. Furthermore, the technology addresses climate change in two very critical ways. Not only is a renewable source of energy, but predictions of a warmer climate means greater evaporation rates. These models of generating energy would keep moisture closer to earth.

Here is a video explaining the two machines and the ongoing research at Columbia:

Read more about the project on Inhabitat