If thermoelectric materials can convert low-grade heat into electricity, we may never need to charge wearable technology at home again.
At night, most of us plug in a jumble of wires and devices as we charge our smart watches, phones and fitness trackers. It’s a pile that’s unlikely to get any smaller as more and more wearable tech enters our lives. Manufacturers and futurists predict that these will soon be energy self-sufficient and that we’ll be free of their mess. But the question remains: how? At the moment the only major portable power sources are solar chargers, but these have significant limitations both indoors and after dark.
Kedar Hippalgaonkar, Jianwei Xu and their co-workers at A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) think they could soon use low-grade waste heat – think car exhaust or body heat – to power devices.
“An enormous amount of low-grade waste heat is being dumped into the environment”, says Hippalgaonkar. Converting this heat into electricity is a big opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.
High-temperature thermoelectric generators are already a key source of power for space instruments. The Mars rover, Curiosity, and the interstellar space probe, Voyager 2, harness long-lasting nuclear heat. The latter has been running on this type of power for more than 40 years. “Thermoelectric power generation is not a new idea,” explains Hippalgaonkar. “It’s been investigated since the 1950s and there’s been lots of research on new materials, but in the past most of the work focused on toxic, inorganic materials and applications with high temperatures of operation.”
Hippalgaonkar agrees that the proliferation of Internet of Things devices now brings with it a demand for non-toxic, portable power sources. Future body sensors and portable devices could be worn constantly if they harnessed body heat to be energy self-sufficient. “But to do that we need to develop suitable new thermoelectric materials that are efficient at lower temperatures, non-toxic and cheap to produce.”
The other major opportunity is to make use of any waste heat exiting through engine exhaust from cars, aeroplanes or ships, he adds. The electricity generated could then be fed back into the vehicle, lessening its environmental footprint.
A*STAR’s PHAROS project is focused on the materials that will make these thermoelectric generators possible. The five-year project started in 2016 and aims to find a material composition that is non-toxic and, ideally, Earth abundant (making it cheap), efficient, and easy to fabricate. To do this they are developing less toxic hybrid materials combining organic and inorganic elements, and they are pursuing those with potential for low temperature thermoelectric power generation.
Learn more: Putting body heat in the device game
The Latest on: Body heat
via Google News
The Latest on: Body heat
- Wood-Based Technology Turns Heat into Electricity on April 16, 2019 at 3:51 am
Engineers at the University Of Maryland (UMD) created the flexible device, which runs on ions and which they believe could one day use heat from the human body to generate energy. An illustration ... […]
- The U.S. Army Wants to Block Heat Signatures of Soldiers and Tanks on April 11, 2019 at 1:08 pm
A soldier’s body heat could give him away at nighttime, while the exhaust plume of a tank parked behind a large object could tell the enemy there is a large armored vehicle there. In November 2018, ... […]
- Brief relief from dangerous heat to grace northwestern India, Pakistan next week on April 11, 2019 at 6:47 am
RELATED: What does extreme heat do to the human body? Heat exhaustion vs. heatstroke: What are the warning signs and how should you react? Detailed forecast for New Delhi Drawn out of darkness: ... […]
- How Mosquitoes Sniff Out Human Sweat To Find Us on March 28, 2019 at 8:34 am
Mosquitoes searching for a meal of blood use a variety of clues to track down humans, including our body heat and the carbon dioxide in our breath. Now, research shows that a certain olfactory ... […]
- Wood-based technology creates electricity from body heat on March 25, 2019 at 10:03 pm
A research team has developed a flexible, wood-based membrane that someday could turn body heat into electricity. A University of Maryland-led team of researchers has created a heat-to-electricity ... […]
- The PowerWatch 2 runs entirely on its wearer’s body heat and solar energy on March 6, 2019 at 5:28 pm
A future where you never have to charge your devices is closer than you’d think. Matrix’s PowerWatch 2 doesn’t come with a charging dock like most traditional smartwatches… that’s only because you, ... […]
- Team develops thermoelectric device that generates electricity using human body heat on March 1, 2019 at 4:11 am
The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) in South Korea developed a thermoelectric module that generates electricity using human body heat. The module, which is 5 cm in width ... […]
- New Smart Garments Powered by Body Heat on February 22, 2019 at 2:33 am
One of the design goals for those developing wearable technology is to create comfortable clothing that also include a power source for various small devices people are increasingly using to monitor ... […]
- Thermal imaging shows just how much heat escapes your body when skin is left exposed to dangerous temperatures on January 29, 2019 at 8:44 pm
DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - With record-breaking temperatures and wind chills moving into the Quad Cities, it is important to make sure all of your skin is covered up if going outside. We lose most of ... […]
via Bing News