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Thermoelectric materials are not cheap or efficient, but researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are looking to change that.

Thermoelectric materials, materials which generate voltage when they are subjected to heat, or when a voltage is applied become hot on a side and cold on the other, are not new. In fact they've been around for nearly a century. Though understood, thermoelectric materials didn't see practical applications until the 1960s, with work done by former MIT professor and president Paul Gray.

The cornerstone of the research is that, even in the present, thermoelectric materials are typically very inefficient. An efficient thermoelectric material must be good at conducting electricity, but not heat, a property most do not possess. A current MIT professor, Mildred S. Dresselhaus, and her team are working to address the issue with new composite materials.

What the team found is that engineering tiny structures into the material can alter the conductive behavior. Even structures as small as a few billionths of a meter interfere with the flow of heat, but allow electricity to travel unobstructed. The structures could be as simple as a matrix of nanoscale particles or wires.

Dresselhaus began her work in the 1990s, and the US Navy took interest. Air conditioning systems and power generation in submarines keep them from being truly silent, and advanced thermoelectric materials could provide a way to reduce both. Her current research in semiconductor materials and nanostructures is sponsored by NASA.

Recent advances in thermoelectric materials have garnered attention from even automotive manufacturers. Most of the energy created from combustion engines is lost as heat, thermoelectric materials may provide a way to utilize this heat in the form of electrical generation for systems in the vehicle. Other technologies, such as photovoltaics, most commonly seen as solar cells, could benefit from the materials as well, using not only the sun's light, but its heat to generate power. Materials could even be built into microchips, greatly enhancing their heat dissipation properties, allowing either cooler running chips, or even faster processing.

The work is not simply theoretical. At least one company has had minor success with a thermoelectric seat cooling device for automobiles.   As technology moves, maybe we could see these new materials in every day devices, like kinetically powered thermoses that keep drinks cool or hot or solar-powered passive cooling systems for car interiors on hot summer days.

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By FITCamaro on 11/27/2007 3:03:53 PM , Rating: 4
I particularly interested in the automotive applications. Imagine a gas engine that produces power not just in drive to the wheels, but also the heat released was used to generate energy for an electric motor.

Also would make cars like Chevy's Volt concept which use the idea of the gas motor just generating electricity twice as good. The motor would not only generate electricity from being a generator, but also the heat released would generate additional energy. Even things like regular generators would benefit from this.

You'd be using the power of the explosion of the gas in the chamber to generate power but also the resulting heat.

RE: Interesting
By KristopherKubicki on 11/27/2007 3:08:32 PM , Rating: 2
Would be an awesome idea to improve efficiency if these materials can sustain those kind of forces.

RE: Interesting
By KristopherKubicki on 11/27/2007 3:09:00 PM , Rating: 2
Run to patent office buddy!

RE: Interesting
By nemrod on 11/27/2007 4:16:11 PM , Rating: 2

From the text above:

Recent advances in thermoelectric materials have garnered attention from even automotive manufacturers. Most of the energy created from combustion engines is lost as heat, thermoelectric materials may provide a way to utilize this heat in the form of electrical generation for systems in the vehicle.

I have perhaps missed something but for me, he is just emphasing this point.

RE: Interesting
By KristopherKubicki on 11/28/2007 10:39:40 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the way I envisioned that was that the thermoelectrics were considerably further away from the heat source than in the combustion chamber.

I think these materials are still way too delicate for that, but I would not be surprised if someone much smarter devises methods for integrating them into tougher materials.

RE: Interesting
By LogicallyGenius on 11/29/2007 3:33:57 AM , Rating: 2
With good thermoelectric cells there will be no need of combustion.

RE: Interesting
By FITCamaro on 11/27/2007 4:21:42 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe I'll get lucky, a high up at GM will see that post, and hire me as one of their guys who comes up with new cars. I'd have RWD back in every GM vehicle by 2012.

And I'd hire assassin's to take out key engineers from all the other auto manufacturers. ;) Maybe I've been playing Assassin's Creed too much.

RE: Interesting
By Polynikes on 11/27/2007 5:55:16 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe for each one you kill, another 3 would glady take their place.

Not that I wouldn't mind seeing GM improve their product line, but unless you somehow send their competitors out of business, they'll always have decent engineers on staff.

I like your RWD in every car idea, though. :)

RE: Interesting
By TomZ on 11/27/2007 6:19:00 PM , Rating: 2
I like your RWD in every car idea, though.

You RWD nuts crack me up. I live in Michigan, and we get some snow here. All it takes is about 1/4" of snow on the roads to spin all the RWD cars into ditches. :o)

I'm exaggerating a bit, but seriously, I've driven RWD cars in the ice and snow, and it sucks. I'm AWD all the time now - have AWD in both vehicles and would never go back.

RE: Interesting
By djc208 on 11/27/2007 8:48:15 PM , Rating: 1
The stability control systems have made them much better, you almost have to try to spin them out. AWD makes it easier to get around in bad weather but of course stopping is the one you have to worry about and AWD doesn't help there.

Outside of that RWD is better from a performance/handling standpoint and makes for easier packaging. Plus the cool Dukes of Hazard maneuvers you can pull!

RE: Interesting
By afkrotch on 11/28/2007 10:59:45 AM , Rating: 2
Eh? AWD is always better. Bad weather, good weather, handling, etc. Faster takeoffs, more traction, etc. Not sure exactly where AWD loses out.

Tons of AWD cars are banned from competition racing for "unfair advantage" against other manufacturers. FIA Super Touring bans AWD. Formula 1 bans AWD.

Better performance? WTF does that have to do with the drive wheels. Last I checked a 500 hp engine had 500 hp regardless if it were FWD, RWD, or AWD. That's like saying "My dad's Camaro at 60 mph is so much faster than your mom's minivan at 60 mph."

Also majority of high performance AWD vehicles don't have a 50/50 split power. Usually 40/60 or 30/70. You still get the drifting nature of a RWD, while actually having the ability to regain traction at a moment's notice. STIs have an adjustment knob allowing you to change it from 50/50 to 40/60.

RE: Interesting
By theapparition on 11/28/2007 8:11:55 AM , Rating: 2
So you'd sacrafice the 11 months of non-snow/ice roads for the maybe 30 days of winter driving conditions a year?

In bad weather, I just take the 4WD. The rest of the time, its all RWD.

RE: Interesting
By TomZ on 11/28/2007 8:59:09 AM , Rating: 2
What "sacrifice" do you mean? My AWD cars handle great on dry as well as wet pavement.

Even if there is a tiny improvement in handling with RWD, it's not worth even a slight decrease in safety for me or my family. Safety is far and away my primary consideration.

RE: Interesting
By Strunf on 11/28/2007 11:35:18 AM , Rating: 2
I don't even get it why there's still RWD cars, I mean FWD is 10x better on all aspects, only AWD would be better under some conditions like bad roads, snow etc...

RE: Interesting
By masher2 on 11/28/2007 11:44:56 AM , Rating: 2
> " I mean FWD is 10x better on all aspects"

Untrue. RWD distributes the weight of the vehicle better, and performs better under fast acceleration. Cars with RWD tend to turn better also, as you don't have a massive drive shaft assembly attached to your turning wheels.

On wet or icy roads, FWD has better traction however, and its slightly cheaper to build a car with FWD.

RE: Interesting
By Strunf on 11/28/2007 1:53:03 PM , Rating: 2
Dude it's pretty obvious I was being overly optimistic... I mean 10x better under all conditions, no one on it's right mind would really think such thing.

Anyway I doubt a RWD car will turn better than a FWD car, at least thats the feeling I get from the many auto tests I've seen.

RE: Interesting
By Pneumothorax on 11/28/2007 8:45:53 PM , Rating: 2
Have you actually driven a rwd car? My GF has a 335i coupe with stick and I have a 08' Acura TL-S with 6M and I prefer her car to mine when handling at the limit. You can definitely feel that >60% of my car's weight is on it's front wheels. The front suspension also gets upset when I'm taking a long sweeper and hit a rough patch which all too common in socal roads. (Maybe that's why I'm not too sympathetic to snow belters, I can always take my Tacoma with BFG all terrains when I go snowboarding.)

RE: Interesting
By InsaneGain on 11/28/2007 12:28:28 PM , Rating: 2
First of all, under acceleration, the weight of a vehicle shifts toward the rear of the vehicle, giving more traction to the rear wheels. This is why no racing cars have FWD. The reason why people think that FWD is safer on slippery roads is because when a FWD loses traction it understeers which the is a safer situation than RWD oversteer for the average driver.

Rear wheel drive has better weight distribution and places each wheel under more even loads, resulting in better handling and traction on dry roads. The more even weight distribution also improve braking performance as there is less tendency for any wheels to lock up under heavy braking. No front wheel drive car could seriously be considered a performance car. You wont ever see a BMW with FWD.

The disadvantage of AWD is it's significant weight increase and increased costs in both fuel economy and purchase price. They have more traction under acceleration, but I wouldn't be surprised if accident rates for AWD vehicles were not statistically lower than RWD or FWD vehicles. I have a selectable AWD vehicle, and even during the winter I hardly ever put it in AWD, and I get around just fine. I only put it in AWD after a heavy snowfall, before it is cleared away. I'm not even sure if I would get another AWD.

RE: Interesting
By TheOtherBubka on 11/28/2007 3:47:04 PM , Rating: 2 the article author, if you look at the solar spectrum and the bandgap of silicon or CIGS, you will find out these materials already use some of the infrared radiation emitted by the sun. Both materials (since they have the same bandgap) operate over about 77% of the power spectrum emitted by the sun.

The thermoelectrics that operate on temperatures of 100 C or less use a completely different part of the 'heat' spectrum. Very far away in wavelength (~8000-12000 nanometers) compared to where the blackbody emission curve of the sun stops (for all practical purposes, this is considered to be 2500 nm).

RE: Interesting
By daBKLYNdoorman on 11/27/2007 3:49:20 PM , Rating: 2
Hey FITCamaro, what state are you from? Do you have an AIM screename or something similar?

RE: Interesting
By FITCamaro on 11/27/2007 4:12:57 PM , Rating: 2
.....I live in South Carolina now.....yes I have I don't give it out here.....

If you really desire to speak with me, hit me up @gmail.

RE: Interesting
By Samus on 11/27/2007 5:37:47 PM , Rating: 1
I'd consider an entry level GM Sedan if it were RWD (Cobalt, Malibu, etc) but until then I just ganna stick with my Mustang.

RE: Interesting
By theapparition on 11/28/2007 8:14:38 AM , Rating: 2
Just released Pontiac G8.

RE: Interesting
By FITCamaro on 11/28/2007 8:51:04 AM , Rating: 2
Great looking car. But honestly if I had the money for a G8, I'd just pick up a used 06-07 GTO. 30 more horsepower and you can get it in a manual. Only downside of the G8. 6-speed auto only for now.

RE: Interesting
By StevoLincolnite on 11/28/2007 8:55:55 AM , Rating: 2
I watched the cars being built in Adelaide South Australia. - Now I hope they make a new Monaro from that design, might give me a better option to upgrade from my Holden VE SS.

RE: Interesting
By Cygni on 11/27/2007 4:09:50 PM , Rating: 4
Formula 1 has changed its rules for the future, banning all engine development and opening up forms of energy recapture on the cars. Kinetic energy recovery systems are coming in 09, with hybrid drives possibly coming as early as 2010.

If you can get F1 to focus its engineering dollars on thermoelectrics, it will greatly speed the adoption of the technology in roadcars. I know some of the teams are already looking to thermoelectrics as a way to boost the efficiency of charging the battery in a hybrid drive layout. The efficiency possibilities are incredible if that system could be perfected.

The path from racetracks to the streets is well documented, with everything from fuel injection to composite materials making the jump. Even alternative fuels, in some ways, came from the racing world (American open wheel racing has exclusively used methanol and ethanol for more than 40 years). Probably the most significant leaps have been computerized engine management systems and all forms of traction and stability control.

Get the racing world dumping their hundreds of millions into it, and we will have them a lot faster than if its being widdled away at by a few grad students with a $100k NASA grant.

RE: Interesting
By FITCamaro on 11/27/2007 4:16:34 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Racing brings tons of stuff to street cars. Especially the fun ones. ;)

RE: Interesting
By masher2 on 11/27/2007 4:22:20 PM , Rating: 3
> "You'd be using the power of the explosion of the gas in the chamber to generate power but also the resulting heat. "

IC engines are already heat engines; they use the heat from the explosion to expand a gas, which cools the gas and removes the heat during expansion.

So if you put a thermoelectric material inside the combustion chamber, you'll reduce overall efficiency, not increase it. These are useful for capturing *waste* heat which has already escaped the chamber itself.

RE: Interesting
By FITCamaro on 11/27/2007 4:32:14 PM , Rating: 2
Well I didn't mean put the material inside the chamber. I was more thinking of parts of the block, the headers/exhaust manifolds, etc could be made with this material. That way the heat from say the coolant could be absorbed and made into energy. Heck, just make the radiator out of it and it could not only cool the engine, but produce electricity.

I don't know all the limitations of it, but I'm just throwing ideas off the top of my head.

RE: Interesting
By Etsp on 11/27/2007 4:48:11 PM , Rating: 2
here is some background info on how it works.

Unfortunately, these aren't that simple to make, and they certainly aren't cheap (Though, not too terribly expensive either). If they become that much more efficient, then that may change the way many things are made, including air conditioning, refrigerators, even thermoses.

RE: Interesting
By jhinoz on 11/27/2007 10:10:33 PM , Rating: 2
why not whack this in the middle of your disc breaks, they get pretty darn hot and stay hot for quite a while.

RE: Interesting
By highlandsun on 11/28/2007 8:05:11 AM , Rating: 2
It's already being done

but certainly more efficient materials would make this better.

Still, I'd rather use the waste exhaust heat to drive a turbocharger, and increase the efficiency of the engine. Until TECs get a lot more efficient, you'll get better use of that exhaust energy from a turbo.

RE: Interesting
By FITCamaro on 11/28/2007 8:48:51 AM , Rating: 2
Still, I'd rather use the waste exhaust heat to drive a turbocharger

Who says you can't? If the inside of the exhaust manifold is made of this material, it will create energy off the heat of the exhaust. The exhaust manifold could still be routed to a turbocharger. Just because the exhaust is cooler doesn't mean it won't spin the turbo. In fact one of the biggest problems with turbo's is heat. With a cooler exhaust temperature, turbo temps would go down a bit (of course the turbo spinning at extremely high rpms will still create heat).

Now obviously you wouldn't want to cool the exhaust gas too much since it'll lower the gas' velocity. But it's not like the entire manifold has to be made of the thermoelectric material.

All my point was is that there's a lot of heat involved with a combustion engine. If that heat energy can be converted into electrical energy, that'd be great.

RE: Interesting
By highlandsun on 11/28/2007 2:07:19 PM , Rating: 2
Heh. Actually, on the page I linked to, they show that their unit is downstream of a turbo already, so never mind.

On the exhaust manifold is too far upstream. TEGs only work where there's a delta-T; you need a way to cool the cold side otherwise both sides equalize and electrical output goes to zero.

I Jet-Hot coated my exhaust manifolds to keep the heat in until it reaches the turbo. I guess on my car I could rig up some kind of large aluminum sheet under the body to act as a heat sink for a bunch of TE chips after the cat. But with what's available commercially today, and expecting about 1KW electricity out of it, not sure it's worth the trouble. That's 1.3hp, big deal. Too bad this article doesn't mention how much improvement they're talking about.

RE: Interesting
By theapparition on 11/28/2007 8:17:44 AM , Rating: 2
Also keep in mind that the hotter the exhaust, the lower the CO emmisions.

I understand where your coming from though. It may hold some promise.

RE: Interesting
By FITCamaro on 11/28/2007 8:40:52 AM , Rating: 2
Again, I wasn't saying to put it inside the chamber. And once the exhaust gas is out of the chamber, its up to the catalytic converter to clean things up.

RE: Interesting
By theapparition on 11/29/2007 12:03:10 PM , Rating: 2
Right, but by removing heat from the headers or manifolds (which I think you suggested), reduces temperature at the catalytic converters. That's where optimum heat allows them to work more efficiently.

RE: Interesting
By ThisSpaceForRent on 11/28/2007 8:25:20 AM , Rating: 2
Putting these on the exhaust manifold of a heat engine would be bad hehe. Using them to cool the intake air of turbo charged vehicles would be an interesting application.

RE: Interesting
By Strunf on 11/27/2007 8:07:25 PM , Rating: 2
hmm no, the heat from the explosion heats the gas and the chamber, heating the chamber is of no use so if you use a chamber made of a thermoelectric material the efficiency would go up, more so if you take into account all the energy that is currently used to keep the engine temperature down.

RE: Interesting
By masher2 on 11/27/2007 11:04:06 PM , Rating: 1
A thermoelectric material converts heat on the hot side to electrical energy. If that hot side is inside the combustion chamber, then you've just removed some heat from it, meaning the gas will be cooler, and less energy can therefore be extracted from it. You can't get something for nothing.

Now if you power the TE with waste heat already escaped from the cylinder, that doesn't apply. But otherwise its going to lower the efficiency of the engine, if only slightly.

RE: Interesting
By geddarkstorm on 11/28/2007 12:29:17 PM , Rating: 2
Well, from what I understand, the thermoelectric material isn't some sort of heat vacuum that sucks it up, it simply puts the consequence of what heat does to metal matrices to work. In reality, the rate at which heat is lost is controlled by the heat capacity/conductance of a substance. If this thermoelectric material has the same heat conductance as the surrounding metals and materials that make up the cylinder and piston, then no more heat will be lost than normal during combustion. If the thermoelectric stuff has a lower heat conductance, then you'll keep the heat trapped in the cylinder even better than usual and increase efficiency (in ways that probably can't be noticed however, and vice versa). Now, from what the article itself says, good thermoelectric material does not allow heat to pass easily; i.e. has a very low heat conductance. In short, this stuff would be just fine anywhere as long as it can take the stresses, and shouldn't lower efficiency of an engine at all. Now, you wouldn't want to use the stuff in cooling fins however.

RE: Interesting
By FITCamaro on 11/27/2007 11:38:03 PM , Rating: 2
You want heat in the combustion chamber. As much as possible without causing pre-ignition or overheating.

RE: Interesting
By Strunf on 11/28/2007 4:41:48 AM , Rating: 2
Why would you want that? I mean it’s the gas that produces all the work, a perfect chamber would be a chamber that doesn’t affect the temperature of the gas at all, since the cooler the gas is the more efficient the engine is.

RE: Interesting
By theapparition on 11/28/2007 8:29:19 AM , Rating: 3
a perfect chamber would be a chamber that doesn’t affect the temperature of the gas at all,

The word your looking for is adiabatic, meaning no energy transfer from gas to cylinder wall, a perfect insulator.

Since there's no such thing, the closest you can come to it is to have the cylinder wall equal to the temperature of the gas. There is no energy transfer when temperatures of two surfaces are equal.

since the cooler the gas is the more efficient the engine is.

Way wrong. PV=nRT. The higher the temperature, the more volume*pressure or more work done. The hotter the gas, the more energy is output. No way around this. Cooling the cylinders ALWAYS has the effect of reducing efficiency. It's a balance of maintaing the hottest cylinder wall temp as possible, without compromising the material, or the fuel (knock), and ensuring long term reliability. From stock settings, there is quite a bit of performance tuning that can be done to engines, but the tradeoff is always going to be reliability and usability.

RE: Interesting
By FITCamaro on 11/28/2007 8:53:01 AM , Rating: 2
Plus the added benefit of that the hotter the cylinder temps, the more of the crap that is burned up. So lower emissions.

RE: Interesting
By Strunf on 11/28/2007 1:42:55 PM , Rating: 2
Why would I look for such obnixous word?

"Since there's no such thing,"
And where did I say it exists? I said a perfect... that already means by itself that is purely theory.

If you have to heat up and keep the cylinder wall at the gas temperature then it wouldnt be perfect.

"Way wrong. PV=nRT."
Dude understand me correctly, PV=nRT, right?

Right, what we want is the biggest v change possible since its the volume change of the gas that will push the piston down, if you start of with a cooler gas you will create a bigger volume change for the same amount of gas, this cause your delta T will be bigger.... a couple F1 teams (BMW and Toyota) were using cooler than authorized fuel on their cars, the limit is 10° less than ambient temperature and they were like 13° less.

"Cooling the cylinders ALWAYS has the effect of reducing efficiency." Yes and today you loose on both sides one cause your cylinders will never be at the gas temperature, so basicly they take some energy out of your gas and also cause you have to cool them down to avoid any kind of problems.
My point was why cooling it down using air, water and what not and instead use a thermoelectric material that would cool it down to the wanted temperature and at the same time produce some energy out of it, has it is now it's all waste.

RE: Interesting
By theapparition on 11/29/2007 12:23:14 PM , Rating: 2
Why would I look for such obnixous word?

Because that's the proper term, and anyone commenting on something technical with a percieved understanding would know what that word is, and not have to look for it.

And where did I say it exists? I said a perfect... that already means by itself that is purely theory.

I never implied that you did say it exists. Your just reading more into my reply and perhaps getting a little defensive.

Dude understand me correctly, PV=nRT, right?

Errr, yeah.....what are you even trying to say?

Right, what we want is the biggest v change possible since its the volume change of the gas that will push the piston down, if you start of with a cooler gas you will create a bigger volume change for the same amount of gas, this cause your delta T will be bigger

What you are talking about is intake air, which was NOT what you originally stated. You originally stated:
a perfect chamber would be a chamber that doesn’t affect the temperature of the gas at all, since the cooler the gas is the more efficient the engine is.

Perhaps you worded it wrong, but in that context it reads that the lower the combustion gas temperature, the more efficient the engine is.
I'll absolutely agree that lower intake temps produce more power due to the higher density of the air. On a strict technicality, you don't want the largest Volume change, you want the largest PV change, which equates directly to work on the cylinder. Because you can increase volume while decreasing pressure for a net effect of zero work.

While a perfect cylinder wall doesn't exist, they are pretty close at full operational temperature. With the issues of cylinder robustness, and extream cost differential, I doubt you'll ever see any thermoelectric coolers added to internal engine components ever. Now, I could certainly see benefits for these to be placed external and in radiators.

RE: Interesting
By Strunf on 11/29/2007 7:13:05 PM , Rating: 2
"Because that's the proper term, and anyone commenting on something technical with a percieved understanding would know what that word is, and not have to look for it."
Maybe they would but what's the point of using a not so common word around here to express an idea, when a few more words do the same job while being understood by most?

I'm not reading into anything, it's you said it doesn't exist, I was speaking "in theory" and you come around and say it doesn't exist like if it was some kind of news...

"I'll absolutely agree that lower intake temps produce more power due to the higher density of the air."

Yes but you insert the gas when the piston is going down in the cylinder, if this cylinder and piston are burning hot then the gas will expand opposing the piston when he moves up, this works against you and that's why I was speaking of a material is less thermal conductor if any, to influence the least the gas temperature, that said a material that would get hot and cold at the right moment would work to.

RE: Interesting
By FredEx on 11/30/2007 5:33:52 AM , Rating: 2
Something is wrong there. Part of the reason there was consideration for developing a ceramic based engine is that the ceramic material did not absorb thermal energy like materials used now, making the engine far more efficient since more of the thermal energy created during combustion was used to drive the engine. Ceramic engines absorbed so little heat they didn't need a cooling system. This isn't theory, they existed. Also, the ceramic material had such a low coefficient of friction that lubrication needs were greatly reduced and in some cases developers said they could eliminate the need for lubrication all together. What killed ceramic engine development though was the extreme cost of the material.

Ceramic coatings are used in dragsters, they ceramic coat the top of the pistons so that they don't melt for one thing, but also to keep the thermal energy in the cylinder for more horsepower. Do a Google on ceramic coatings to find a myriad of uses.

RE: Interesting
By theapparition on 12/3/2007 7:09:03 AM , Rating: 2
Something is wrong there.

I hope your not trying to contradict my original post, because that is exactly what I stated from the beginning. A perfect combustion engine would have zero heat transfer from the cylinder walls and have the highest cylinder temperature possible.

If you were trying to re-enforce my post, then I thank you.

RE: Interesting
By cheetah2k on 11/28/2007 12:10:44 AM , Rating: 1
Imagine an Intel QX9770 with energy producing substructures in the aluminium heat spreader....

One of these hot babies could power a few HDDs or even a video card!


RE: Interesting
By Scabies on 11/28/2007 3:00:34 AM , Rating: 2
but you would need the processor to be chewing a certain amount of electricity constantly or to maintain a certain "load", otherwise theres the risk of underpowering devices. Try this idea with an older P4, a GPU, or my RD600 northbridge (yow!)

(btw, try to use energy-reclaiming or energy-recycling, as energy-producing is somewhat... misleading :D)

RE: Interesting
By Fritzr on 11/28/2007 10:16:32 PM , Rating: 2
Already being looked at :)

United States Patent 6799282: Power generating mechanism that has a duct, heat pipe, or heat sink to efficiently diffuse heat generated by a heat

IEEE tested a heatsink powered heatsink fan among other ideas

1.1KW Seebeck generator on a commercial truck

This tech is being used as an active heatsink. They do need insulation though as they are capable of taking your CPU subzero while overclocked :)

Also check the results from this search

RE: Interesting
By fictisiousname on 11/28/2007 10:08:58 AM , Rating: 2
Interesting concept (using the waste heat to generate electricity).

With the waste heat generating electricity to drive elec traction motors on each wheel, the Internal Combustion motor can be reduced in size and yet maintain vehicle power to weight ratio.

Not mentioned in the article, but if the heat is absorbed and producing energy, wouldn't this also reduce the cooling requirements of the engine/Turbo charger? If so, would this promote further development of higher combustion chamber and Turbo charge, thus also leading to cleaner burning engines?

carbon nanotubes
By fic2 on 11/27/2007 5:11:52 PM , Rating: 2
I vote for carbon nanotubes as the disruptive material. They seem to be useful for everything else.

RE: carbon nanotubes
By Etsp on 11/27/2007 5:30:32 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, they are being used as the exact opposite, as a thermal interface material that allows for better heat transfer than normal metals. If one could come up with a way to arrange them to do the exact opposite well, then that would truly be a testament to their versatility.

RE: carbon nanotubes
By bupkus on 11/27/2007 5:42:57 PM , Rating: 2
Good, so carbon nanotubes could be used in my new heat sink, just incase this article's concept doesn't work.

RE: carbon nanotubes
By Etsp on 11/28/2007 11:45:46 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah... OCZ is way ahead of you on that...

another waste heat recovery method
By dtcomm on 11/27/2007 5:29:34 PM , Rating: 2
By Clauzii on 11/27/2007 11:51:56 PM , Rating: 2
FAT! Now music energizes the car :)

Together with these:

A possibillity of a (partly) selfcooling/selfpowering circuits or what?

What we need...
By JonnyDough on 11/27/2007 6:27:43 PM , Rating: 1
What we need is a toxic free lightweight kinetic energy gel that can be put used in various parts of the car. It could provide safety padding for occupants while still producing energy from all the vibrations and bumps the car endures. You could even use it under the seats as a personal shock absorber. Wire it all up and you've got extra power for your electric motor. Does anyone know if anyone is working on something like this?

RE: What we need...
By JonnyDough on 11/27/2007 6:34:55 PM , Rating: 1
I wonder if the advancements in "solar paint" or solar sheeting combined with ideas like these will ever provide us with 50mph fuel-free vehicles. I still contend that what we need is a solar panel topped monorail. I'd love to come home in fast moving automated pod. The commute would be short and I could check my email while zipping home. Large freight shipments could use the same rail. All kinds of safety features could be implemented to test for rail breaks and so on. The long-term cost of this versus what we spend on the HTS each year in this nation would be a lot lower. We just need a large company to begin implementing the idea anytime already.

By Clauzii on 11/27/2007 10:27:40 PM , Rating: 2
Also imagine a new type of circuit board with build in layers from this material would enable (at least partly) selfpowering devices.

And did't he talk about inside chips too? Promising indeed, IF efficiency can be made a lot better than now.

The real deal
By wordsworm on 11/28/2007 2:06:03 AM , Rating: 2
This would be a phenomenal evolution in technology. If it could be translated into a textile, you could theoretically have a suit that actually repels heat. 'Air conditioners' could actually be placed into the skin of a house while powering devices in the house. It would be interesting to read a detailed analysis.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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