Things are looking up for businesses in terms of green energy solutions. A thermoelectric generator, powered by the heat of the sun, is set to be revealed to the public in the near future. Scientists have found a way to harvest the sun’s heat and convert it into a source of electricity.
How it works
The thermoelectric generator is made from nano structured materials; ultimately, this improves the heat to electricity conversion ratio. The generator is plate shaped and is placed inside a glass vacuüm tube, which is covered with a black heat absorbing copper plate. The opposite side of the generator is exposed to ambient air creating a temperature difference of 200 degrees celsius. This temperature difference induces the flow of the electricity, allowing the system to convert the heat to electricity. To break things down simplified, the thermoelectric generator absorbs heat from the sun and converts it to clean energy capable of powering a building or supplementing a water heating system.
The generator is envisioned for use as a standalone device, or as an addition to any hot water system. When purchased, the generator will come in one solid state with no moving parts. Thermoelectric generators are low-cost and high performance machines creating the ultimate environmentally friendly, high-efficiency electricity device.
Different types of thermoelectric devices
Despite the newness of the thermoelectric generator, thermoelectric devices created from different thermoelectric materials have been used for the past few years. Portable coolers, devices to cool off car-seats, and self heating bottle warmers are all devices that use thermoelectric advancements; furthermore, scientists are working towards improving the devices that use thermoelectric energy including, but not limited to, thermoelectric generators.
The generator would be a lot cheaper in terms of cost. The system would make an excellent back up generator in case of a loss of electricity. The system is expected to eventually remove the need of traditional energy methods completely. With the advancement of science and technology, thermoelectric devices are no longer an item that remains in the ideas of a designer. The thermoelectric energy system is currently used to cool down car seats in a vehicle or warm up a bottle for a baby on the go.
In the next few years scientists are hoping to advance in the thermoelectric generator field in order to make the technology cost-effective for businesses. Researchers have reached 4.6% peek efficiency, which is eight times high power than other solar thermoelectric devices. This discovery is expected to make a large impact on the amounts of energy consumed by businesses in the near future.
- David L Chandler, MIT News, May 2, 2011
- Martin LaMonica, cnet, May 4, 2011