Converting waste heat into electricity
"Waste heat" might not be such a waste after all. The excess heat produced in everything from microelectronics to large ship engines is generally thought of as a problem for engineers to solve. But a new leap in semiconductor technology funded by the Office of Naval Research could put that troublesome heat to good use.
Dr. Mihal Gross of ONRs physical sciences division explains, "With this class of semiconductors, when you have a temperature gradient you can generate electrical current. Or if you pass an electrical current through the material, you can get a temperature gradient for cooling." An ONR-funded research group at Michigan State University led by Dr. Mercouri Kanatzidis has found the right combination of ultrapure lead, antimony, silver, and tellurium for a material (called LAST) that is significantly more efficient for high temperature power generation than existing thermoelectric materials. His work is described in the 6 February 2004 issue of Science.
Jennifer Huergo | EurekAlert!
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