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Thermoelectricity

A soldier in a fictitious but realistic urban, desert environment, with superimposed numbe...

If you’ve ever removed the battery from a laptop, then you will know that it constitutes quite a large percentage of the total weight of the computer. Well, if you think you’ve got it tough lugging that laptop battery around, consider the plight of infantry soldiers – they have to carry multiple batteries to power devices such as weapons, radios, and GPS equipment, and they have to do so for hours at a time, often under very harsh conditions. Attempts to lighten the 45 to 70 kg (99 to 154 lb) loads typically carried by soldiers currently include the use of fuel cells, li-ion batteries woven into their clothing, and autonomous pack horse-like vehicles. Now, UK researchers are adding their two pence-worth, by developing wearable solar and thermoelectric power systems.  Read More

A new thermoelectric material could be used to harness waste heat from heat-generating ite...

Thermoelectric materials offer the potential to harness electricity from otherwise wasted heat. Continuing research in the field could yield applications scavenging energy from vehicle exhaust systems, industrial processes and equipment, and even sunlight. Now researchers have created a material with a higher energy conversion efficiency that could make such systems more feasible.  Read More

Fujitsu converts heat and light into electricity with a single device

Fujitsu Laboratories today announced a two-in-one energy harvesting device that can convert both light and heat into electricity. With no electrical wiring or batteries to replace, Fujitsu says that this sort of device can be manufactured from organic materials keeping costs to a minimum.  Read More

Purdue mechanical engineering student Yaguo Wang works with a high-speed laser at the Birc...

The energy crisis has certainly catalyzed a great deal of thought about how we harvest all that energy we previously wasted. The petroleum-burning internal combustion engine has traditionally leaked energy from the exhaust system in the form of heat, but new ThermoElectric Generator (TEG) research at Purdue University aims to yield as much as a ten percent reduction in fuel consumption by converting heat from the exhaust into electricity. It is hoped that the thermoelectric research will eventually lead to other methods of turning waste heat into electricity in homes and power plants, new and more efficient solar cells and perhaps even a solid-state refrigerator.  Read More

A scanning electron microscope image and a rendering of Caltech's silicon nanomesh (Image:...

Researchers at two different institutions have recently announced the development of technologies for converting waste heat from electronics into something useful. At the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), they’ve created a silicon nanomesh film that could collect heat from electric appliances such as computers or refrigerators and convert it to electricity. Meanwhile, their colleagues at Ohio State University (OSU) have been working with a semiconducting material that has the capacity to turn waste heat from computers into additional processing power.  Read More

Orange Power Wellies - power collected in the power generating sole is generated via a pro...

European Telco Orange is showing off an interesting phone charging prototype – a set of Wellington Boots with a ‘power generating sole’ that converts heat from your feet into electrical power to charge your battery-powered handhelds. You'll need to walk for twelve hours in your “Orange Power Wellies” to get an hour of battery life but we still think it's remarkable that such significant amounts of energy can be harvested from normal human activity. In order to decrease the length of time you need to charge your phone, try dancing or running, because the hotter your feet get, the more energy you produce.  Read More

The power pack packs clips easily to the exterior when removed to create a cook stove that...

Consider the humble camping stove. It requires fuel - perhaps some unwieldy bottle that air carriers object strongly to. Maybe it needs batteries to run a fan, or billows out smoke so you smell like smoked sweatshirt for the rest of the trip. The solution might be the BioLite stove - it's a collapsible wood-burning cook stove that uses almost any forest-found fuel and converts its own heat energy into electricity to achieve efficient combustion with ultra-low emissions.  Read More

The key ingredient in the process is carbon nanotubes — submicroscopic hollow tubes made...

MIT scientists have discovered that a moving pulse of heat traveling along the miniscule wires known as carbon nanotubes can cause powerful waves of energy. These "thermopower waves" can drive electrons along like a collection of flotsam propelled along the surface of ocean waves, creating an electrical current. The previously unknown phenomenon opens up a new area of energy research and could lead to a new way of producing electricity.  Read More

The heat from the human body could be harvested to run low power electronic devices

Efforts to capture energy from the human body usually focus on harnessing the kinetic energy of the body’s movement. However the human body is also generating energy in the form of heat that could also be used to run low power electronic devices. New energy-scavenging systems under development at MIT could generate electricity just from differences in temperature between the body (or other warm object) and the surrounding air.  Read More

A laptop generating a little too much waste heat (Photo: secumem via Wikipedia Commons)

That heat emanating from your computer as you sit reading this article amounts to nothing more than wasted energy. And your computer is not alone. More than half of the energy consumed worldwide is wasted, most of it in the form of excess heat. But new research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) indicates it might be possible to harvest much of the wasted heat produced by everything from computer processors to car engines and electric powerplants, and convert it into usable electricity. This kind of waste-energy harvesting might lead to mobile phones with double the talk time, laptop computers that can operate twice as long before needing to be plugged in to mains power, or energy plants that produce more electricity for a given amount of fuel.  Read More

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