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Energizing the Power of Evaporation

Scientists have struggled to harness the power of evaporation for purposes such as energy production or water conservation. But now, findings from the Wyss Institute about the mechanical properties of bacterial spores have contributed to new ideas about how these tiny spores could have a big impact on energy and water management. The bacterial spores expand rapidly when exposed to humidity and contract rapidly when returned to a dry environment, inspiring new ways of leveraging those properties for technological uses. Now, prototype devices are being built to demonstrate how the fast expansion and contraction of bacterial spores, which can happen up to hundreds of times per second, could someday be used to conserve water and generate energy.

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