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Bouncy

New Alloy Can Convert Heat Directly Into Electricity

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I used to kid about hyperconductors -- normal conductors create heat from electrical current; superconductors have no resistance and therefore don't emit heat; hyperconductor would have a negative resistance and convert ambient heat into current. That was nice bullshit pseudoscience, kinda like tachyons.

And then there are people turning an absurd concept into something real? (If you read the article, it works for completely different reasons and isn't as silly.)

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DuckReconMajor said:

Self powered air conditioning?

I image the heat would have to be outstanding to generate any significant power.

How much heat does it take to generate one watt of power?

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Exactly how is this a novelty? Electricity generation by heat has already been known and practically applied for some time. Plus, it's an inefficient process only suitable for very specific applications, because it will only be as efficient as the heat gradient that you can generate. So if you use low grade heat + room temp sink = low efficiency.

And RTGs use radioisotopes that self-heat to hundreds of degrees C and are still terribly inefficient. Generating electricity in this way is more or less like running an incandescent lamp in reverse.

DuckReconMajor said:

Self powered air conditioning?


The laws of thermodynamics would make any such contraption their bitch pretty soon. Makes for awesome quackery and crackpot scamming though....and let's not mention the trolling and slashdotting pseudo-ecologists and tree huggers that will drool over this.

Technician said:

How much heat does it take to generate one watt of power?


With an efficiency of 3-7% tops, do the maths.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator#Efficiency

This reminds me of how excited I was, as a kid, to discover that overheating batteries over a stove apparently "recharged" them :-p

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I can see this being combined with solar somehow to generate an even higher wattage output; I assume that's what would be best for this technology in the future, anyway.

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Csonicgo said:

I can see this being combined with solar somehow to generate an even higher wattage output; I assume that's what would be best for this technology in the future, anyway.


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Csonicgo said:

I can see this being combined with solar somehow to generate an even higher wattage output


Unless you can keep one side of the solar panel considerably cooler than the other, it would not be worth it, and energy production would stop as soon as the panel would all reach an uniform temperature. You'd get maybe an extra 1% of efficiency for a couple of hours, before the "thermal" part of the deal stalled itself to a slow, low-grade heat death.

Solar panels are great if you wish to produce hot water for direct use (they even work surprisingly well in the weak winter sun), as you can save on combustible fuels and/or electricity, but not so much for direct electricity generation, unless you're happy with a few wimpy watts.

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I remember once reading about how "soon" "they" were going to be fitting some kind of metal along railway lines, and as the lines expanded in the heat of the sun this metal would use the expansion energy to generate electricity.

Now where did I read that, hmm... Oh yeah, If I remember rightly it was the 1936 volume of Chatterbox. Taking their time...

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Wonder if this would have any practical use in conjunction with stirling engines.

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