Your cars engine loses 70 percent of its energy as waste heat -- but Australian and Oregon scientists may have figured out an efficient way not only to recover that lost energy, but to at long last capture the power-producing potential of geothermal heat.
The trick is to convert it to electricity -- and a promising way to accomplish this, the researchers have discovered, involves using extremely thin nanowires to potentially more than double the efficiency of thermoelectric materials. "If all goes well, nanostructured thermoelectric devices may be practical for applications such as recycling of waste heat in car engines, on-chip cooling of computer microprocessors and silent, more compact domestic refrigerators," says Heiner Linke, a University of Oregon assistant professor of physics associated with ONAMI, the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute.
Linke and Tammy Humphrey, an Australian Research Council fellow currently visiting the University of California at Santa Cruz, presented their findings today (Tuesday, April 5) at the Nanoscale Devices and System Integration Conference in Houston. A review of their study in the online version of the journal Nature Materials described their results as "dramatic" and "a phenomenal enhancement relative to current bulk thermoelectrics."
Melody Ward Leslie | EurekAlert!
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