An ultra hi-tech device that can pull electrical power out of thin air has been devised by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) department of chemical engineering.
The device is reportedly called as the thermal resonator, and it is said to convert temperature fluctuations into electricity, using the process of thermoelectrics. Now, isn’t this amazing, well, what’s more, is that the device can work in any kind of weather conditions, even in shade, all it needs is ambient temperature changes.
Professor Michael Strano, the researcher who led the study, explained how they had invented the concept out of whole cloth, which led to the creation of the first thermal resonator. He added that they were encircled by temperature fluctuations of all diverse frequencies, and this was an untapped source of energy.
The power generation from changes in temperature has been attempted before through various techniques including pyroelectrics. However, this new method is more efficient than previous efforts and can be tuned to adapt to temperature variation and specific periods.
The team of scientists made a major breakthrough with the materials for the thermal resonator, which included graphene, metal foam made of copper or nickel, and a special wax called octadecane that can change between a solid and a liquid within a specific range of temperatures.
Strano stated that a proof of concept sample of the material produced 350 millivolts of potential energy and around 1.3 milliwatts of power in response to a change in temperature to the tune of 10°C (18°F) between night and day. According to the researchers, this would be sufficient to power small environmental sensors or communication systems. Meanwhile, Volodymyr Koman, an MIT postdoc and co-author of the new study stated that such systems could provide long-lasting energy sources for landers or rovers exploring remote locations inclusive of moons and planets.