1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

I Seebeck generator from placing water heater next to freezer

  1. Apr 3, 2017 #1


    User Avatar

    Water heater is set at 130 degree f freezer is 5 degrees f.

    Is it possible for a thermoelectric generator to collect energy from these placed side by side?

    Would the extra energy used by the heater and freezer due to the presence of the generator cancel out and then some any energy that could be collected?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 3, 2017 #2


    User Avatar
    2017 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    If I read your question correctly, the answer is:
    There cannot be a perpetuum mobile (PMM) in our universe. (Reason: laws of thermodynamics)
  4. Apr 3, 2017 #3


    User Avatar

    I am not suggesting a perpetuum mobile, i am asking more about conservation of energy. Since one thing is allready hot the other cold couldnt we conserve some of that energy and give it back to grid?
  5. Apr 3, 2017 #4
    Short answer is "no." A freezer pumps heat from the inside chamber and exhausts it externally in its refrigeration cycle. The outside of the freezer gets warm.

    It would be better to have the watersupply going into a water heater jacket where the incoming water is cold, and put your peltier device inbetween the jacket and water tank.

    The reality is, its not cost effective.
  6. Apr 3, 2017 #5


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The water heater and freezer are both insulated to prevent heat transfer. That's the opposite of what an energy harvesting device needs. So there really is almost no energy available to be captured and at an extremely low delta-T (because of the insulation), you get an extremely low efficiency.

    Broader; the laws of thermodynamics do indeed forbid such a device from being useful, even if it isn't obvious how. The energy required to create your temperature difference must always be greater than the energy gained by harnessing it. In this case, it is particularly bad because most electric water heaters don't even use a heat pump (COP: 4:1), they use resistors (efficiency: 100%/COP: 1:1)
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted