Hydrodynamic constraints on the energy efficiency of droplet electricity generators

Antoine Riaud, Cui Wang, Jia Zhou, Wanghuai Xu, Zuankai Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Electric energy generation from falling droplets has seen a hundred-fold rise in efficiency over the past few years. However, even these newest devices can only extract a small portion of the droplet energy. In this paper, we theoretically investigate the contributions of hydrodynamic and electric losses in limiting the efficiency of droplet electricity generators (DEG). We restrict our analysis to cases where the droplet contacts the electrode at maximum spread, which was observed to maximize the DEG efficiency. Herein, the electro-mechanical energy conversion occurs during the recoil that immediately follows droplet impact. We then identify three limits on existing droplet electric generators: (i) the impingement velocity is limited in order to maintain the droplet integrity; (ii) much of droplet mechanical energy is squandered in overcoming viscous shear force with the substrate; (iii) insufficient electrical charge of the substrate. Of all these effects, we found that up to 83% of the total energy available was lost by viscous dissipation during spreading. Minimizing this loss by using cascaded DEG devices to reduce the droplet kinetic energy may increase future devices efficiency beyond 10%.

Original languageEnglish
Article number49
JournalMicrosystems and Nanoengineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Hydrodynamic constraints on the energy efficiency of droplet electricity generators'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this