2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Thermoelectricity

KAIST's device can generate electricity from bodily heat (Image: KAIST)

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a lightweight, flexible and high-efficiency thermoelectric generator that can harness your body heat to generate a small amount of electricity. The device could be used to extend the battery life of low-power wearable devices.  Read More

Harvard physicists Federico Capasso (left) and Steven J. Byrnes (right) are part of a team...

Could it one day be possible to generate electricity from the loss of heat from Earth to outer space? A group of Harvard engineers believe so and have theorized something of a reverse photovoltaic cell to do just this. The key is using the flow of energy away from our planet to generate voltage, rather than using incoming energy as in existing solar technologies.  Read More

The FlameStower – where there's fire, there's electricity

We're constantly seeing inventors attempt to create new and interesting ways to charge our cell phones. VOTO is one product we've seen that uses fire to charge our smart devices, and now a new take on the idea is hitting the scene. Called FlameStower, it utilizes very similar technology, but with a few twists.  Read More

Canadian high school student Ann Makosinski demonstrating her body-heat powered Hollow Fla...

At the tender age of 15, Canadian high school student Ann Makosinski has designed and built a flashlight powered by body heat. Her Hollow Flashlight secured her a finalist slot in the 15-16 age group of the Google Science Fair ahead of thousands of entries from more than 100 countries. My science project in tenth grade was a volcano that only worked about half the time, so I think she has me beat.  Read More

Test flights of the Vienna University of Technology/EADS thermoelectric Energy Harvesting ...

A European project to develop self-powered sensors for monitoring aircraft integrity is off the ground, with EADS Innovation Works and Vienna University of Technology reporting that the first test flights of the thermoelectric Energy Harvesting Modules have been carried out on an Airbus aircraft.  Read More

Some of Fraunhofer's printed thermoelectric generators, wrapped around a sample component

Thermoelectric materials, putting it simply, are able to generate electricity via differences in temperature. If thermoelectric felt were used to make a jacket, for instance, it could generate a current using the temperature gradient between the warm interior and cold exterior of the garment. Like many such promising technologies, however, the cost of thermoelectrics is something of an issue ... although thanks to a new process developed at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology, that might not be the case for much longer.  Read More

A test of the new material, being conducted at Michigan State University's Center for Revo...

Wherever there’s enough of a temperature gradient between two surfaces, thermoelectric materials can be used to generate an electric current. If a coat were made with thermoelectric felt, for instance, a current could be generated by exploiting the difference between the wearer’s body heat and the cold outdoor air. Now, scientists have developed an inexpensive new type of thermoelectric material, that could make the technology more commercially viable.  Read More

A hybrid nanomaterial synthesized by combining copper sulfide nanoparticles and SWNTs can ...

We’ve seen nanomaterials that can be used to convert light into electricity and others that can convert heat into electricity. Now researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington and Louisana Tech University have created a hybrid nanomaterial that can do both. By pairing the material with microchips, the researchers say it could be used in self-powered sensors, low-power electronic devices, and biomedical implants.  Read More

Thermoelectrics can be used to convert energy currently lost as heat wasted from industry ...

Approximately 90 percent of the world’s electricity is generated by heat energy. Unfortunately, electricity generation systems operate at around 30 to 40 percent efficiency, meaning around two thirds of the energy input is lost as waste heat. Despite this, the inefficiency of current thermoelectric materials that can convert waste heat to electricity has meant their commercial use has been limited. Now researchers have developed a thermoelectric material they claim is the best in the world at converting waste heat into electricity, potentially providing a practical way to capture some of the energy that is currently lost.  Read More

MIT doctoral student Saurav Bandyopadhyay has designed a new chip capable of harvesting en...

The problem with depending on one source of power in the drive toward the battery-free operation of small biomedical devices, remote sensors and out-of-the-way gauges is that if the source is intermittent, not strong enough or runs out altogether, the device can stop working. A small MIT research team has developed a low-power chip design capable of simultaneously drawing power from photovoltaic, thermoelectric, and piezoelectric energy sources. The design also features novel dual-path architecture that allows it to run from either onboard energy storage or direct from its multiple power sources.  Read More

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