MXene Self-Powered Marine Environmental Sensor

Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) offer a wide range of applications in self-powered sensory systems. In an article published in the journal Nano energya liquid-solid, wave-driven TENG was created to provide a self-powered sensing platform for monitoring marine environmental conditions.


​​​​​​​Study: Ethylene Chlorotrifluoroethylene/Hydrogel Based Liquid-Solid Triboelectric MXene Self-Powered Sensor System for Marine Environment Monitoring. Image credit: David Prado Perucha/

The threats posed by sulfur dioxide

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air contamination kills more than seven million people each year. Variations in humidity, temperature and pollution can contribute to the emergence of new contagious diseases; thus, these factors must be tracked in real time to understand how they vary.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2), a common air contaminant, is very harmful to human health and the ecosystem. Even modest amounts of SO2 can induce lung and heart problems in humans, and prolonged SO2 contact in pregnant women can lead to birth defects of the fetus and death.

Sulfur dioxide easily causes acid rain, damaging trees, soil and water. Therefore, designing reliable gas detectors for fast and accurate detection of sulfur dioxide is essential.

Currently, most sulfur dioxide detectors require a power source, and some require high temperatures for optimal detection, resulting in dramatically high power consumption and expense. Since installing large-scale sensors requires a large amount of energy, new energy-harvesting technologies must be devised to operate sensing systems.

Harnessing wave energy using TENG

Solar and wind energy have seen considerable development as conventional sources of clean energy. Nevertheless, solar and wind power generation consumes significant resources on the ground, which limits its scalable implementation.

The ocean covers more than 70% of this planet’s surface and includes many sustainable clean energies, such as tidal and wave energy. Transforming wave energy into electricity has become a crucial new focus of energy technology research.

Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) based on triboelectrification and electrostatic bonding have attracted widespread interest due to their inexpensive nature, diverse component sources, and simple architecture. TENGs offer distinct advantages in capturing low frequency energies (like wave energy).

Liquid-solid TENGs show the way forward for wave energy harvesting. An important research avenue is the application of TENG-based sensing systems in monitoring marine ecosystems. However, current research is limited to basic tests and is unable to comprehensively monitor complex coastal environmental factors such as pollutants.

How can MXenes help?

MXenes are a new class of two-dimensional substances that include carbides, nitrides, and carbonitrides of transition metals and have promising applications in detectors, capacitors, and catalytic processes.

MXenes are used as a reducing agent to aid in the graphene oxide (GO) reduction process, which further improved gas sensitivities. The self-powered detector has a high reactivity to NH3 and exceptional specificity. MXenes are now used as a gas detection substance to detect a range of gases; however, virtually no research has been reported on the use of MXene-based sulfur dioxide detectors.

Main results of the study

In this research, the team designed a self-powered sensing system for maritime environmental monitoring using liquid-solid TENG driven by wave energy. To capture wave energy, the triboelectric nanogenerator was constructed using ethylene chlorotrifluoroethylene (ECTFE) sheets and ion hydrogel electrodes.

The creation of an atomic-scale electron cloud potential well and the electric double layer (EDL) explained the electrification of the interface between ECTFE and water. Peak-to-peak open-circuit voltages and power density of TENG could approach 332 V and 1.85 W/m2respectively.

The MXene/TiO powered by TENG2The /SnSe detector, which has a high sensitivity (about 14 times higher than a resistive sensor), was produced to detect sulfur dioxide gas.

The TENG has enabled the self-powered sulfur dioxide detector, reducing power consumption and dramatically improving detector responsiveness. A stand-alone marine environmental monitoring framework has been designed to further illustrate the applicability prospects of the designed TENG and sulfur dioxide detector.

Data from the self-powered device’s sensors can be sent in real time to cell phones and other modules, allowing them to track humidity, temperature, sulfur dioxide levels, surface levels of water and other parameters of the maritime environment.

Debugging of gas detector humidity and temperature errors was performed by incorporating and analyzing information from the sensory system with a back-propagation neural network framework.


Wang, D., Zhang, D. et al. (2022). Triboelectric Liquid-Solid Ethylene Chlorotrifluoroethylene/Hydrogel MXene Self-Powered Sensor System for Marine Environmental Monitoring. Nano energy. Available at:

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