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Thermoelectricity

Recent research in thermoelectric nanomaterials might lead to higher energy efficiency for...

Researchers at Purdue University in the U.S. have developed a new method of harvesting vast amounts of energy from waste heat. Using glass fibers dipped in a solution containing nanocrystals of lead telluride, the team led by Dr. Yue Wu is engineering a highly flexible thermoelectric system that generates electricity by gathering heat from water pipes and engine components.  Read More

PowerPot is a line of camping cookware, that generates electricity using heat

Thermoelectric materials are able to generate an electrical current, via a temperature gradient within themselves. If thermoelectric fabric were used to make a jacket, for instance, the temperature difference between that garment’s cool exterior and warm interior might be enough to charge devices carried in its pockets. A current could also be generated by a vehicle’s thermoelectric exhaust pipe, due to its hot interior and the cool air surrounding it. Now, entrepreneurs David Toledo and Paul Slusser have developed a line of thermoelectric cooking pots, that use the heat of a fire to generate electricity when camping.  Read More

In this diagram, the blue spheres represent selenium atoms forming a crystal lattice, whil...

Thermoelectric materials work by converting differences in temperature into electric voltage. If two parts of such a material experience significantly different temperatures, electrons within it will flow from the warmer part to the cooler, creating an electrical current in the process. Using these materials, electricity could be generated by the temperature differences on the inside and outside of jackets, within car engines, or even between the human body and the air around it ... just to list a few examples. An international team of scientists have now discovered that an existing material, which behaves like a liquid but isn't one, displays particularly impressive thermoelectric properties.  Read More

Wake Forest University researcher Corey Hewitt, with a sample of the Power Felt

Some day, your jacket may be able to power your iPod ... and no, I’m not talking about piezoelectric fabrics (which generate electricity from movement-caused pressure), nor am I talking about photovoltaic materials, although both of those could probably do the job. Instead, your jacket might be made out of a new thermoelectric material called Power Felt, that converts temperature differences into electrical voltage – in the case of the jacket, the difference between its wind-cooled exterior and its body-warmed lining might be all that was needed.  Read More

Gizmag takes an in-depth look at small modular nuclear reactors and wonders if they hold t...

This year is an historic one for nuclear power, with the first reactors winning U.S. government approval for construction since 1978. Some have seen the green lighting of two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors to be built in Georgia as the start of a revival of nuclear power in the West, but this may be a false dawn because of the problems besetting conventional reactors. It may be that when a new boom in nuclear power comes, it won't be led by giant gigawatt installations, but by batteries of small modular reactors (SMRs) with very different principles from those of previous generations. But though a technology of great diversity and potential, many obstacles stand in its path. Gizmag takes an in-depth look at the many forms of SMRs, their advantages, and the challenges they must overcome.  Read More

The Cryoscope brings a haptic element to tomorrow's forecast by letting users feel tomorro...

Given that touch is generally the best way to determine how hot or cold something is - as long as it's not too hot or cold - Rob Godshaw has come up with a device that could provide a more immediately understandable representation of tomorrow's weather than the traditional abstract number coupled with simplified symbols seen on the nightly news. His invention is an aluminum cube called the Cryoscope that adds some haptic feedback to the daily weather forecast by letting users physically feel tomorrow's temperature - at least in their fingertips.  Read More

Researchers have created an efficient new thermoelectric nanomaterial, that could be used ...

Virtually all electrical devices and industrial processes create heat as they operate, which is typically wasted. In the past several years, various thermoelectric technologies have been developed to address that situation, by converting such heat into electricity. The ideal material for the purpose would be one that has a high electrical conductivity, but a low thermal conductivity – that way, it could carry plenty of electricity without losing efficiency through overheating. Unfortunately, electrical and thermal conductivity usually seem to go hand in hand. With some help from an ordinary microwave oven, however, researchers from New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have created a nanomaterial that appears to fit the bill.  Read More

The 10,000 Year Clock is a giant timepiece that will be located in a remote cave in Texas,...

When we hear about things being built to last, we usually think in terms of years or decades ... or maybe, centuries. But millennia? Well yes, if you’re talking about the 10,000 Year Clock. As its name implies, the 200 foot (61 meter)-tall timepiece is intended to run for 10,000 years, in a remote cave in West Texas. The clock’s “century hand” will advance one space every 100 years, although individuals who make the trek to the cave will be able to hear it chime once a day. The whole project is designed to get people thinking in the long term.  Read More

Scientists have created self-powered sensors, that could wirelessly transmit data on the s...

Because structural integrity is so crucial to the safe operation of aircraft, their bodies are regularly inspected for signs of faults such as stress fractures. Some of these fractures can be virtually invisible to the human eye, so scientists are looking into the use of permanently-installed sensors, that would continuously provide information on the state of various parts of the aircraft. Given that one commercial airliner could potentially utilize hundreds of these sensors, however, running wiring to all of them could get quite complex. Using battery-operated sensors is one option, although ground crews would be constantly checking and changing batteries, plus it would be wasteful. Researchers from EADS Germany and the Vienna Institute of Technology now think they might have a better alternative – self-powered sensors that wirelessly transmit data.  Read More

Artist concept of NASA's Voyager spacecraft (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The last time we checked on the Voyager 1 & 2 they were hurtling towards the edge of the solar system at over 37,000 mph (60,000 km/h). The car-sized spacecraft are now and incredible 11 billion miles (17 billion km) and 8 billion miles (14 billion km) from Earth respectively – they are the longest continuously operated spacecraft in deep space and having traveled further than any man-made object, they will soon become the first to enter the realm of interstellar space. NASA recently held a briefing on the achievements of the program which gives us the opportunity to ponder where the Voyagers are, where they are going and the amazing scientific discoveries realized so far in their 33 year journey.  Read More

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