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A natural alternative to single-use plastic was inspired by spiders.

Now, an international research team from India and the US has turned its attentions to the animal kingdom to generate sustainable electricity for domestic use.

The team struck lucky while experimenting with silkworm cocoons. When dry, the protein membrane is insulating.

But with the help of water vapour it can be made conductive and, clamped between two electrodes, used to produce electricity. The amount of current can be increased by adding common salt.

After being exposed to water vapour for 3-5 minutes, a mini-battery like this could supply an LED lamp with electricity for 24 hours.

Coated fabric and hydrogel made using sea salt can be equally powerful.

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