Water contains tremendous energy in various forms, but very little of this energy has yet been harvested. Nanostructured materials can generate electricity by water-nanomaterial interaction, a phenomenon referred to as hydrovoltaic effect, which potentially extends the technical capability of water energy harvesting. In this chapter, starting by describing the fundamental principle of hydrovoltaic effect, including water-carbon interactions and fundamental mechanisms of harvesting water energy with nanostructured materials, experimental advances in generating electricity from water flows, waves, natural evaporation, and moisture are then reviewed. We further discuss potential applications of hydrovoltaic technologies, analyze main challenges in improving the energy conversion efficiency and scaling up the output power, and suggest prospects for developments of the emerging technology, especially in China.
Part of the book: Green Energy and Environment