Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Heat to energy converter

  1. Jul 2, 2005 #1

    Pengwuino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    "Heat to energy converter"

    Does anyone know what this might be lol. Someone said they used a "heat to energy converter" to make electricity. Is there a such thing or am i going to have to beat someone down...
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 2, 2005 #2

    Integral

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Boiler and turbine?
     
  4. Jul 2, 2005 #3

    Pengwuino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    it was a single device i believe. Somethign that wouldnt seem insanely odd attached to a computer...
     
  5. Jul 2, 2005 #4

    Integral

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I thing a Peltier (theromelectric) device will produce a potential difference when there is a temperature difference applied to the two sides. I do not think it will produce a lot of current.
     
  6. Jul 2, 2005 #5

    Pengwuino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    oh hey yah, your right... they werent talking about that though or they would have said a peltier and not a "heat to energy converter". I wonder if that would work without having to switch anything around...
     
  7. Jul 2, 2005 #6

    Danger

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Since when is heat not energy?
     
  8. Jul 2, 2005 #7

    Pengwuino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I assume the guy meant heat -> electrical energy because he was using the end result to power a computer.
     
  9. Jul 2, 2005 #8

    Danger

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Ah, well then... you could use thermocouples, thermionic converters, Sterling engines, steam engines... Thermionic converters, at the last time I looked into the matter, were the most efficient method of obtaining low-wattage DC electricity. That would be ideal for powering a laptop for sure; running a desktop unit would take an inverter in the circuit, as far as I know, unless you bypass the power supply and feed directly into the low-voltage system.
     
  10. Jul 2, 2005 #9
    what about solar panels or something like that?
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2005
  11. Jul 2, 2005 #10

    Danger

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    There are 2 kinds of solar panels. Photovoltaic cells are based upon light, not heat. Photons knock electrons for a loop, and electricity results. The kind of solar panel that you would use to heat a home or run a generator is based upon heating up the working fluid (usually water) and either using the heat directly (to warm your house) or using it secondarily to run a piston or turbine setup that turns a generator.
     
  12. Jul 2, 2005 #11
    sorry about the typo Solar not solor anyhow glad you understood! nice info to know Danger,thx.
     
  13. Jul 2, 2005 #12
    Someone once told me that heat was often difficult to convert into electrical energy because of entropy. I never undersood at which point you would encounter this if you tried to apply a boiler/turbine. (There was an enormous amount of heat being pump out the back of our physics department from the air conditioning on a hot day, all of it totally useless).
     
  14. Jul 2, 2005 #13

    Danger

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    It wasn't totally useless; you were contributing to global warming! (As one who, today, has to wear a sweater and jacket to work, I'm all for it.) All coal, gas, oil, nuclear, and solar power generating stations use heat to create electricity. It's inefficient, for sure (nuclear is the best), but certainly not difficult.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?