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Electricity from a kerosene/gas mantle?

  1. Dec 3, 2013 #1
    Like the title says I was wondering if it would be possible to generate a couple of watts of electricity from a kerosene or gas mantle. Less than 0.5% of the energy in the fuel is being converted to light which means that in the 33kJ per mL of kerosene nearly 9 watts is being lost as heat. Even at very low efficiency that amount adds up if you're using a couple of mL an hour.

    I've thought of 4 ways that this could maybe be done, 3 that use heat differentials and 1 which uses the fuel itself.

    Round shaped thermoelectric module to cover mantle.
    Thermionic generators (which seem like more efficient thermoelectrics)
    Stirling engines (moving parts and hard to find)
    The last way is to actually use the gas as fuel for a solid oxide fuel cell.

    At the moment thermoelectrics seem to be it because I can't seem to find any SOFC in that power range and I can't seem to find much of anything regarding thermionic generators. I would really appreciate some help on finding places which sell these sort of things (if they sell them at all) especially thermionics because like I said, they seem more efficient than thermoelectrics.

    Thank you for reading.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 4, 2013 #2
    The Soviets had some functioning kero lamp generators, check out:
    http://www.douglas-self.com/MUSEUM/POWER/thermoelectric/thermoelectric.htm#rl All the lamps appear to be glass chimney-draught rather than pressurised. The devices appear to extract heat through the glass chimney walls, which isn't very efficient. ( I may be misreading the photographs though.) Also look at the biolite stove at the bottom of the page. I really want one!

    Thermoionic devices are efficient in theory but currently poor in practise, unless you're doing something exotic like injecting caesium ions into your vacuum. That might change in the future though, see http://phys.org/news/2013-12-highly-efficient-thermoelectronic.html

    Hope this is of use.
  4. Dec 4, 2013 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    I remember reading about thermoelectric generators run on sailing boats, I am not sure if they used their own burner, or if they were attached to the heater. It shouldn't be difficult to google them.

    Edit: actually it is difficult to google them, as hits are dominated by Peltier devices. But I found this: http://www.mountainviewoffgridliving.com/Kimberly-Stove.php
  5. Dec 5, 2013 #4

    I did come across the designs of those generators during my initial research and like you I did think the placing was the not the best though it is explained that by doing it that way you also get to use the light of the lamp. Even with the placement and lamp they're still generating 2 watts which makes me confident that much more power can be generated using my idea. I don't care about the light from the mantle, only the heat so any potential generator can be placed right next to the heat source.

    In the article you linked to it says 'practical thermionic generators have reached efficiencies of about 10 percent' which I think is double the efficiency of thermoelectrics so shouldn't it be possible to get hold of them.
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