Thermoelectric generator harvests renewable energy from the cold of space

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The thermoelectric generator uses a black aluminum disk to radiate heat into the atmosphere, and a polystyrene enclosure to keep the air inside warm.Aaswath Raman

 As effective as solar panels are, one of their major downsides is that they only produce power during the day, so excess energy needs to be stored for use overnight. But now, engineers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have developed a prototype device that works almost the opposite way, harvesting energy from the cold night sky to passively power an LED.

The device works on the thermoelectric principle, where an electric current is created through the temperature difference between two surfaces. This idea could ultimately end up making for thermoelectric exhaust pipes that help charge a vehicle’s battery, camp cooking gear that tops up phones, and clothes that use body heat to power wearable electronics.

In this case, the thermoelectric device also made use of another odd phenomenon called radiative cooling. This process is often seen in surfaces that face the sky – at night, they can become colder than the surrounding air because they radiate heat straight into space, since the atmosphere doesn’t block infrared energy. Past experiments with radiative cooling have shown promise as a way to cool buildings without needing to use energy.

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Wearable technology that could one day power your smartphone using body heat

wearable tech

Researchers have created a glass fabric-based thermoelectric generator wearable technology.

A team of South Korean researchers have developed technology that could one day power your smartphone using just body heat.

 

 

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Power Felt – thermoelectric fabric lets you sit on your phone to power it

Power Felt

Power Felt

A Wake Forest University’s Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials team has created a new thermoelectric fabric they call Power Felt. It’s constructed of “tiny carbon nanotubes locked up in flexible plastic fibers,” though the final product looks and feels like fabric, and creates and electrical charge from changes in temperature–like, say, touching it with your hot finger, or sitting on it with your hot butt (hot in this case referring to temperature and thus wholly inoffensive science).

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Eco-Friendly Fridge For 2020

Eco-Friendly Fridge For 2020 

 Oceania

Tez Patel, an engineer and industrial designer has created the perfect user-friendly and eco-friendly refrigerator. Though he suggests his eco-fridge, “Oceania,” is designed for the year 2020, it sure would be nice if a big kitchen appliance manufacturer made it happen sooner. A fridge can use up to 15 percent of our household energy!

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Thermoelectric Material May Help Cars Turn Heat Into Electricity

Thermoelectric Material May Help Cars Turn Heat Into Electricity 

 Thermoelectric Material

Researchers have invented a new material that will make cars even more efficient, by converting heat wasted through engine exhaust into electricity. In the current issue of the journal Science, they describe a material with twice the efficiency of anything currently on the market.

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