Register to reply

Heat energy to Electric energy?

by ranger
Tags: electric, energy, heat
Share this thread:
ranger
#1
Jan13-06, 06:57 PM
PF Gold
ranger's Avatar
P: 1,684
Is it possbile to covert heat energy (like that from the surface of a hot radiator) to electric energy? Whats the theory behind this?

--thank you.
Phys.Org News Partner Physics news on Phys.org
Step lightly: All-optical transistor triggered by single photon promises advances in quantum applications
The unifying framework of symmetry reveals properties of a broad range of physical systems
What time is it in the universe?
chroot
#2
Jan13-06, 07:22 PM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
chroot's Avatar
P: 10,427
Of course. You can use heat to turn water into steam, and then use that steam to drive turbines which are connected to electric generators. This is what power plants do -- the fundamental energy released from fuel, be it coal or gas or nuclear, is heat.

Or, you can use a Peltier device in reverse.

There are many such possibilities.

- Warren
ranger
#3
Jan13-06, 08:00 PM
PF Gold
ranger's Avatar
P: 1,684
Turbines are a little far off for me. I was hoping to build a circuit to do this.
Can this only be accomplished with rotational motion(turbines)?

There are many such possibilities.
Are there any smaller scale things that I can possibly experiment with?

chroot
#4
Jan13-06, 08:11 PM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
chroot's Avatar
P: 10,427
Heat energy to Electric energy?

I gave you an example that did not involve moving machines -- the Peltier / Seebeck device.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peltier-Seebeck_effect

- Warren
SaturnV
#5
Jan15-06, 03:17 PM
P: 10
If you have a source of cooling, and some time to build a relatively simple device you may be able to use a small sterling engine hooked up to a simple generator. Haven't built either, but I know you can get the instructions to the sterling, and I would assume the generator, on the internet
Belick
#6
Jan16-06, 06:19 PM
P: 2
You can also build a photoelectric cell to convert heat energy to electric energy.
plusaf
#7
Jan17-06, 02:23 PM
P: 92
Quote Quote by ranger
Is it possbile to covert heat energy (like that from the surface of a hot radiator) to electric energy? Whats the theory behind this?
--thank you.
how about a non-Ph.D level answer?

if you have a gas hot water heater in your home and it's an "older" model that uses a pilot light, you've got an element inside it that converts heat to electricity, and you can buy one down at the neighborhood hardware store.

it's called a "thermocouple."

made of two dissimilar metals, when the metals' junction is exposed to heat, a voltage differential develops. in your hot water heater, the resulting current is brought to a small solenoid which holds the gas valve to the burner under the water tank in an "open" position.

if the pilot light goes out, as in a failure of the gas supply or a water leak extinguishes the flame, the thermocouple goes cold, stops producing the EMF differential, and the solenoid "drops out", cutting the flow of gas. this safety device has been in use for MANY decades, and a stop at your local Home Depot or ACE hardware store should be a quick place to buy one in the water heater repair parts department.

measure its output versus temperature. if you can afford to buy multiples of 'em, try them in series and parallel. determine their Norton and Thevenin (sp?) equivalent circuits. see if they can deliver enough power to run a tiny motor or light an LED.

have a hot time!
+af
X-43D
#8
Jan18-06, 07:01 PM
P: 152
Usually the electro-mechanical approach is used to generate electricity.

http://www.state.hi.us/dbedt/ert/electgen.html
plusaf
#9
Jan18-06, 11:03 PM
P: 92
Quote Quote by X-43D
Usually the electro-mechanical approach is used to generate electricity.
http://www.state.hi.us/dbedt/ert/electgen.html
Stirling Engines, steam engines, tied to a generator. yep, they all convert heat energy to electrical energy.

guess i got caught in the "direct conversion" trap....



+af
rcgldr
#10
Jan19-06, 05:00 AM
HW Helper
P: 7,131
Some sattelites use radioactive material to heat up thermalcouples for a long lasting electrical energy supply.
plusaf
#11
Jan20-06, 11:19 AM
P: 92
Quote Quote by Jeff Reid
Some sattelites use radioactive material to heat up thermalcouples for a long lasting electrical energy supply.

especially the deep-space ones, where solar cells and gasoline engines won't work...
rcgldr
#12
Jan20-06, 02:08 PM
HW Helper
P: 7,131
People are worried what would happend if a nuclear powered sattelite crashed during launch. Do a web search for "satellite plutonium power" and you find a lot of hits, like this one:

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/space/3581575.html

Note that the plutonium is encased into little buttons, which keep the actual plutonium centers spaced so that the actual heat generated falls into a pre-determined range. The cases are ceramic and some hard metal that is supposed to prevent leakage into the atmoshpere in case of a bad launch.

Even the Apollo missions used these mini nuclear reactors on the lunar module. Alll but one of these never came back. Apollo 13's lunar module's nuclear reactor is sitting at the bottom of the ocean somewhere.

Anyway, it may not be efficient, but thermalcouples inserted into a "bottle" of plutonium buttons makes for a very long lasting and reliable power supply.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
Solar energy heat energy light energy..... Engineering Systems & Design 2
Heat and internal energy of gas Introductory Physics Homework 0
Energy (heat?) Introductory Physics Homework 8
Energy to Heat Introductory Physics Homework 1
Supposition about heat energy transferring to electric energy General Physics 0