Eutility's weekly news

Summer heatwaves could provide future energy

Summer heatwaves could provide future energy

Heatwaves have pushed Australia's electricity system to the point of failure, but new technology could use this heat to generate clean energy.

New research has found ways to supercharge thermoelectric devices and make them up to three times more effective than standard thermoelectric semiconductors.

Thermoelectric devices – which are built from materials that convert temperature differences into electricity – have existed for some time, but new research is taking them to the next level.

When these semiconductor devices – which contain no moving parts – are exposed to temperature differences, where one end of the material is hot and the other less so, electrons within the material begin to flow from the hot end to the cooler end, creating an electric current.

The higher the difference in temperature the greater the level of current produced and the more power is created, but the level of energy generated is dependant on how well the materials allow the current to flow unimpeded.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have uncovered a method to triple the efficiency of these devices utilising ‘topological’ materials.

In a paper published earlier this month in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers discovered properties which can make different topological materials more effective thermoelectrically compared to other materials.

Sydney Morning Herald

Post a comment

Captcha Image