Throughout its history, mankind regularly searched for new sources of energy production . After steam engines and the era of refined products and internal combustion engines, people figured out how to use the energy of the sun. Actively developing in the field of electric motors and systems operating on pure hydrogen. But almost all of this, so to speak, is a “hot” process. Is it possible to extract energy from the cold? Sounds like something incredible? Not at all!
How to get energy from the cold?
According to the editors of Scitechdaily, scientists from the University of Los Angeles and Stanford University are responsible for the new development. According to the authors of the work, their device can use the dark time of the day (as well as in the future and the cold of outer space) to create a renewable energy source.
We believe that our technology will allow us to use the same solar panels more efficiently, ”says one of the developers of the technology Aasvat Raman. We will be able to extract part of the energy in the dark, when you do not have access to sunlight. Of course, solar or any other energy accumulated during the day can be stored. But it is much more profitable to supplement this process with systems that help to produce energy at night.
The new device works thanks to the so-called thermoelectric effect. If you try to explain the essence of this effect without going into complex physical terms, then it arises as a result of the interaction of two materials with different temperatures. If these elements are correctly positioned relative to each other, then the temperature change at the interaction boundary can be converted into energy. At the same time, similar systems have existed for a long time, but their production is very difficult to “beat off for the money,” since rather expensive materials are used in the creation.
Based on this, scientists designed their device in such a way that they were created using the simplest and cheapest components. The experimental energy generator is based on an aluminum disk placed in a polystyrene housing. On top of the disk is covered by a window that transmits infrared and ultraviolet light, but does not produce heat back. The design itself turned out to be rather small in size, therefore, for testing, a small LED was connected to it.
As a result, it turned out that when the air temperature drops below zero, a warm aluminum disk begins to interact with the cold coming from the side of the window. The temperature difference allows you to generate approximately 0.8 milliwatts of power, which corresponds to 25 milliwatts per square meter. This was enough for a small LED to work for quite a long time without additional power sources .
The team of scientists believes that their system is quite easily scaled and now they can do the installation, which will produce about 500 milliwatts per square meter. This will already be enough for, say, lighting the premises in the dark. At the same time, experts assure that in addition to lighting in the evening and night hours, their device is suitable for generating electricity “wherever it is needed,” including in outer space.