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Electric energy from thermocouples

  1. Nov 27, 2014 #1
    If I were to make millions of contacts or "spots" on a long wire,and connect them in series(or parallel?),then make half of them warmer than the other half,would I get any useful voltage,i.e. electrical energy I could use to power something?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2014 #2

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, this is known as a thermoelectric generator. They are rather inefficient heat engines, but they do have some practical applications.
     
  4. Nov 27, 2014 #3

    Danger

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I always make allowances for the inclusion of thermionic converters in appropriate circumstances for things that I design. For instance, wrapping the hottest parts of an automotive exhaust system in a blanket of them can provide enough juice to run your radio and GPS at least, and perhaps more. It really wouldn't be cost effective, but it might save a small fraction of a mpg via decreased electromagnetic drag upon your alternator.
    It's a fun exercise, but not worth doing in reality.
     
  5. Nov 28, 2014 #4
    But why is it inefficient? Also one little question: would I need to connect them in series or parallel?
     
  6. Nov 28, 2014 #5

    Danger

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    Gold Member

    That depends upon whether you require more voltage or more current.
     
  7. Nov 28, 2014 #6

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

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