This article y Jeff Kettle, Lecturer in Electronic Engineering, at the School of Computer Sciences & Engineering is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
More than 1.7 billion people worldwide still don’t have a reliable electricity connection. For many of them, solar power is their potential energy saviour – at least when the sun is shining.
Technology to store excess solar power during the dark hours is improving. But what if we could generate electricity from the cold night sky? Researchers at Stanford and UCLA have just done exactly that. Don’t expect it to become solar’s dark twin just yet, but it could play an important role in the energy demands of the future.
The technology itself is nothing new – in fact, the principles behind it were discovered almost 200 years ago. The device, called a thermoelectric generator, uses temperature differences between two metal plates to generate electricity through something called the Seebeck effect. The greater the temperature difference, the greater the power generated.
We already use this technology to convert waste heat from sources such as industrial machinery and car engines. The new research applies the same technique to harness the temperature difference between the outside air and a surface which faces the sky.
Source: “Researchers invent device that generates light from the cold nice sky – here’s what it means for millions living off grid”, Pryfisgol Bangor University