By Evan Ackerman
This is one of those things that, although kinda cool in principle, has (at this stage, anyway) questionable utility. This picture, from Nextreme Thermal Solutions, shows an LED being powered entirely by the heat from a candle. In fact, since candles put out so much waste heat, the LED is actually brighter than the candle that’s powering it. This is thermoelectric conversion in action, and if somebody could make it practical, it would be everywhere. We use all kinds of technologies that pump out tons of waste heat, and then spend a substantial amount of power trying to deal with it. Imagine how much extra battery life you’d get out of your laptop if the heat from the chip was tapped to power the LEDs in the screen, for example.
People are getting more creative with heat utilization and transformation, even doing stuff like using waste heat from laptops to power wireless mice. The real holy grail of this technology, though, is the ability to turn heat directly into electricity in an energy and space efficient manner. We’re not there yet, but it’s always nice to see progress being made.
VIA [ Tech-On ]