According to a team of scientists, a new matchbook sized device could be useful to save energy. It could convert wasted heat in our offices, homes, and vehicles into an eco-friendly source of electricity.
“The device could serve to be useful to trap wasted heat from a number of sources around us, hot water lines in our homes, for example,” said an associate of materials science at Penn State. Usually, residual heat emanating from hot water lines is lost into the atmosphere. Now, a part of this heat can be trapped and converted into useful electricity.
Thermoelectric devices mostly Inefficient for Real-life Situations
Theoretically, thermoelectric devices are reliable to convert heat into electricity. However, in real-life situations the technology has been inefficient, scientists said. Meanwhile, high efficiencies of the new modules of thermoelectric devices was previously obtained only in laboratory settings.
On placing the modules near a heat source, the electrons move from hot side to the cold side to produce an electric current. The device has no moving parts leaving no scope for a chemical reaction or emissions, thus serving to offer as a promising source of clean energy.
As a result, the technology could serve to offer as an alternative to air-conditioning units. If current is supplied to thermoelectric devices, they turn cold and condense humidity into ice.
“Meanwhile, researchers at Penn State have developed an extensive expertise for the design of thermoelectric materials and devices that can find use for power production and cooling,” stated the associate at Penn University.
So far, researchers have developed modeling, fabrication, and testing capabilities in materials as well as devices domains. Going forward, based on this work, researchers speculate thermoelectrics can account for big difference in power generation and cooling.