Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New thermoelectronic generator: Heat energy efficiently converted to electricity

Date:
December 3, 2013
Source:
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Summary:
Through a process known as thermionic conversion, heat energy can be converted into electricity with very high efficiency. Because of its promise, researchers have been trying for more than half a century to develop a practical thermionic generator, with little luck. That luck may soon change, thanks to a new design -- dubbed a thermoelectronic generator.

The hot test generator in action.
Credit: J.Mannhart/MPG.de

Through a process known as thermionic conversion, heat energy -- such as light from the sun or heat from burned fossil fuels -- can be converted into electricity with very high efficiency. Because of its promise, researchers have been trying for more than half a century to develop a practical thermionic generator, with little luck. That luck may soon change, thanks to a new design -- dubbed a thermoelectronic generator -- described in AIP Publishing's Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy (JRSE).

Related Articles


Thermionic generators use the temperature difference between a hot and a cold metallic plate to create electricity. "Electrons are evaporated or kicked out by light from the hot plate, then driven to the cold plate, where they condense," explained experimental solid-state physicist Jochen Mannhart of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany, the lead author of the JRSE paper. The resulting charge difference between the two plates yields a voltage that, in turn, drives an electric current, "without moving mechanical parts," he said.

Previous models of thermionic generators have proven ineffectual because of what is known as the "space-charge problem," in which the negative charges of the cloud of electrons leaving the hot plate repel other electrons from leaving it too, effectively killing the current. Mannhart, along with his former students Stefan Meir and Cyril Stephanos, and colleague Theodore Geballe of Stanford University, circumvented this problem using an electric field to pull the charge cloud away from the hot plate, which allowed electrons to fly to the cold plate.

"Practical thermionic generators have reached efficiencies of about 10 percent. The theoretical predictions for our thermoelectronic generators reach about 40 percent, although this is theory only," noted Mannhart. "We would be much surprised if there was a commercial application in the marketplace within the next five years, but if companies that are hungry for power recognize the potential of the generators, the development might be faster."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics (AIP). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Meir, C. Stephanos, T. H. Geballe, J. Mannhart. Highly-efficient thermoelectronic conversion of solar energy and heat into electric power. Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, 2013; 5 (4): 043127 DOI: 10.1063/1.4817730

Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics (AIP). "New thermoelectronic generator: Heat energy efficiently converted to electricity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131203105935.htm>.
American Institute of Physics (AIP). (2013, December 3). New thermoelectronic generator: Heat energy efficiently converted to electricity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131203105935.htm
American Institute of Physics (AIP). "New thermoelectronic generator: Heat energy efficiently converted to electricity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131203105935.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Magnetic Motors, Not Cables, Power This Elevator

Magnetic Motors, Not Cables, Power This Elevator

Newsy (Nov. 28, 2014) Imagine an elevator without cables. ThyssenKrupp has drafted an elevator concept that would cruise on linear magnetic motors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins