Found a way to extract energy from the cold

A team of scientists from Los Angeles and Stanford University has created a device that generates current by directing residual daytime heat into the cooled air. Thus, according to the authors of the project themselves, their device can use space cold to create a renewable energy source. “We believe that this technology will effectively supplement solar panels and allow energy production even during those hours when access to sunlight is closed, ” says Aaswat Raman, one of the authors of the project.

For all its merits, solar energy is, alas, not a solution to all the energy problems of mankind. Even on Earth, people return home and begin to actively use electrical appliances in the evening hours. Of course, the energy accumulated during the day can be stored - however, it is much more economical and easier to supplement it with “night” production systems.

Unlike many analogues, the new device works due to the thermoelectric effect. Using a material called a thermocouple, engineers can convert temperature changes to voltage differences. For this, on the one hand, a potential source of heat is needed, and on the other, a place for a thermal energy gadfly. The problem is to properly position the materials so that they generate stress from the cooled medium.

Moreover, most thermoelectric systems rely on materials that are too expensive for mass use, so the team showed ingenuity and designed its products from the simplest and cheapest parts. Scientists assembled a cheap thermoelectric generator and fastened it with a black aluminum disk to radiate heat into the night air when it is turned toward the sky. The generator was placed in a polystyrene case, closed by a window transparent to infrared light, and connected to one tiny LED.

As a result of field tests, it turned out that in a cold night, when the temperature drops below zero, the device generates approximately 0.8 milliwatts of power, which corresponds to 25 milliwatts per square meter. This is enough to power, for example, a hearing aid or a laser pointer. Sounds modest, doesn't it? However, for the prototype, assembled literally "on the knee", these are considerable numbers. The team suggests that with the right settings and the right conditions, they can achieve a result of 500 milliwatts per square meter. “In addition to lighting in the evening and night hours, our device is ideal for generating electricity wherever it is needed, ” they explain in their article.

I wonder how a nuclear reactor works and can robots build a house?

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