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University of Utah scientists want to turn wasted heat into usable energy



SALT LAKE CITY – New research at the University of Utah could help make wasted energy an additional power source.

Scientists at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in the United States believe that they have found a method that makes surplus heat a useful source of energy. The results were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology under the title "A Near-Field Radiative Heat Transfer Device".

Up to two-thirds of the energy consumed annually in the US is wasted as heat. Vehicle engines, laptops, mobile devices, and refrigerators are all examples of overheating conditions, said Mathieu Francoeur, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah, he said.

Francoeur, along with former mechanical engineering graduate John DeSutter and former mechanical engineering master Lei Tang, co-authored the article describing the discovery of a way to generate more electricity from heat through creation Silicon chip ̵

1; known as "device" – that converts more heat radiation or heat into electricity.

"We can extract that heat from the processor with one device, and once we extract that heat, we convert it into heat for radiation, then convert that to electricity, which we can put back into the battery and increase battery life." , he said. Over time, he wants to see which technology will be developed for everyday use, which could be the case over the next five years.

The researchers identified a theoretical "blackbody boundary" for how much energy can be generated from thermal radiation. Francoeur and his colleagues have been able to prove that they can go far beyond the typical black body limit to generate more power by using a device with two silicon surfaces that are very close to each other. A 5-millimeter chip, about the size of an eraser, with two silicon wafers separated by a nano-gap of about 100 nanometers in thickness – or one-thousandth of the diameter of a human hair. The chip was placed in a vacuum and then heated on one side, cooling another side, creating a heat flux that could generate energy in this way.

Francoeur and his team found that this is not a peculiarity a way to evenly place the two silicon surfaces at a microscopic level, without touching each other. The closer the environment is, the more energy can be generated, he said.

"Nobody can emit more radiation than the blackbody border," he said. "But if we go to the nanoscale, you can do that." "Basically, you can extend the life of your battery by 50%," he said. "Heat has a detrimental effect on the performance of your phone, so when you extract this heat, you're putting that electrical energy back into your battery." of electricity generated from solar heat or in cars by extracting the heat from the engine of the vehicle to help power its electrical systems. In the future, the chips could also be designed for use in implantable medical devices such as pacemakers, which eliminates the need to replace batteries, the press release said.

An added benefit of the technology would be to improve the life of computer processors By keeping them cool – it reduces overall wear, he said. It would save energy that would otherwise drive the fans to cool the processors, and the technology could also be environmentally friendly.

"They give the heat back to the system as a stream," Francoeur said. "Right now we just throw it into the atmosphere, for example, it heats up your room and then you cool your room with your (air conditioning), which wastes more energy."

"Our work is just one possible solution will not solve all the problems of the world. "he said. "We need different solutions and different types of technologies."

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Jasen Lee

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