Panasonic’s engineering team has figured out a way to generate electricity from hot water pipes – and it’s world’s first development of
its kind. These thermoelectric tubes are about 10 cm in length, and the mini-generator unit comprises of 4 of these tubes. Hot water passes through
the tubes and the outside is cooled by cold water. An individual mini-generator is capable of producing about 10W power, enough to power your portable
Panasonic says that the tubular structure allows more heat absorption with the same size of the product. The power output, therefore is about 3x –
4x that of conventional systems. These systems could be incredibly useful in generating power from factory waste heats. We’d imagine the system
being implemented in generating power from geothermal springs.
This sounds pretty revolutionary and will be able to utilize wasted energy from factory wastes and in geothermal springs. The process of
Transverse thermoelctric effect sounds
promising and is already patented and set up for use. Now this energy can be developed on larger scales. I am curious if there are smaller scale
versions that could be used either at home or out in the field for individuals? I also wonder how large of a scale these units could be serve.
Since conventional thermoelectric generators are complicated in structure and restricted in planar shape, they are difficult to scale-up and
implement. Panasonic's thermoelectric tubes solve these problems by using unconventional phenomena called transverse thermoelectric effect, which
takes place in tilted multilayer made of thermally-resistive thermoelectric materials and thermally-conductive metals.
The 10 cm-long fabricated thermoelectric tube using technologies introduced above can generate 1.3 W of electricity by running hot water of 90 °C
inside, and cold water of 10 °C outside the tube. The power density corresponds to as high as 10 kW with only 1 m3 of volume.
The thermoelectric tube is constructed by stacking conical rings of bismuth telluride as thermoelectric material and nickel as metal. Panasonic
has developed processing technologies in fabricating conical rings of brittle thermoelectric materials and bonding rings with minimum parasitic
electric and thermal losses.
Pretty self explanatory, so not much to add, but could this be a game changer? Obviously there has to be a source of hot water, but one can do that
with a simple fire, so I hope this tech can be used in a low tech fashion at some point, for less developed areas.
I hear ya on that but I think this cat is out of the bag to stay. 29 domestic and 12 international patents and Panasonic has released it for use.
There are stock options now also, so it seems this will take off. Hopefully the sensibility of this will contribute to it's widespread use.
Cool, looks very interesting... Couldn't we use this to power our homes? All you need to do is have the hot water pipe inside the cold water pipe and
hey presto? If that little piece of pipe can produce 10 watts what will our homes produce? Especially ones in colder climates where you will use the
central heating often...
Yea, it seems like it will genuinely be able to utilize wasted energy. It is always nice to see energy taken from an existing system, making it two
fold. Maybe it will be cheap? I doubt it at first though. It does sound like it has huge potential.
That is what I was thinking, and a small bundle of these tubes seems like it would be practical for supplemental energy at the least.
2018? Well guess it is just logistics, both technical and financial.
This could be used to generate even more electricity from a nuclear power plant, or possibly to generate electricity for the plant itself to use
without drawing from the plant's output to the grid, providing an isolated power source for the control systems and cooling pumps perhaps as a backup
edit on 1/6/2013 by abecedarian because: (no reason given)
Perhaps a couple units could be added to the heating/cooling systems on a car to replace the alternator which steals energy from the engine to
recharge the battery thus stealing gas mileage.
That is what my buddy was thinking too. It would be nice if they would create a device that we could add to existing motors, but at the very least I
hope to see this as a standard compliment to future motor tech for vehicles.
They have these already, I don't think it would be as efficient but maybe? You can even buy a cooking pot that works on this principle... The only
difference with this tech is that they have bent it to make a pipe, which is awesome because it can benefit from waste heat...
That is the key here, it is utilizing something which normally does nothing at all...
I have thought of the experiment I'm going to try! This will incorporate a couple things and It should work in theory....
So here we go...
Make or buy a sun oven...
Then you stick these...
link all over the bottom of the solar oven, or maybe inside? Obviously with the heat side up and the cold
side down... Now these solar ovens can reach over 300 degrees! Underneath you would need some sort of heatsink. You could use the earth as a heatsink
by burying the solar oven but then you would lose maneuverability.
Any way so basically I could cook my sunday roast and charge up my mobile phone at the same time!
Also if say you put the array of thermoelectric generators in the bottom and then another plate over the top and sealed it by welding or something you
could also chuck some coal in there and have a bbq when the sun is not out... I actually have a big old bbq I want to convert for this...
Soon as I get the funds I'm gonna have a little go...
edit on 6-1-2013 by mee30 because: (no reason given)
The big question is what is the cost of the materials and manufacturing process. We already have solar panels available that produce electricity and
heat from free sunlight but they are so expensive that most people do not use them. It's all fine and dandy to say let's stick them here, there and
everywhere, but if it's cost inhibitive to do so then the technology won't be a "game changer".
Have you checked out the links I provided? You can get them pretty cheap and of course as demand increases price will drop even more... Solar panels
are fine but this type of system can provide power 24/7 given the right setup... It isn't really fair to compare them like that.
Yes, I have checked your links. Peltier devices have been around for decades. They are not what the OP is discussing. They have their limitations and
they are not a game changer or they wouldn't be so sparsely used. I have used Peltier devices for many projects over the years. I have done research
and testing on them for many more projects but their limitations keep them to a very narrow range of applications. It is very fair to compare them to
other energy producing technologies. I suggest you do your research. For instance, what is the cost per energy unit for the Peltier device that you
have linked, including support components and energy input system? Just because it is on the internet doesn't mean it's a miracle device. You have
to apply scientific analysis to it.
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