It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
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 TV.
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.
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.
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.