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Body Heat Could Charge Your Cellphone

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the powered-clothing dept.

Portables 94

An anonymous reader writes to mention Nature is reporting that scientists have discovered a much more efficient way to use silicon to convert heat into electricity. This offers the possibility of many different applications including possibly charging your portable electronics just by wearing them close to your skin. "The concept of converting waste heat into electricity isn't exactly new, but it never really materialized due to efficiency hurdles. Now, scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California at Berkeley think they may have found a key [to] increase the conversion efficiency by a factor of 100."

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I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22011560)

...welcome the icy grip of our soul..err..HEAT-sucking robotic overlords.

Re:I for one (2, Funny)

badran (973386) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012072)

So now we have sperm powered nano-bots, and body heat powered gadgets, next thing you know it we will be running Human powered factories, data-centers.... and some punk-ass Rasta group with some Jaaaa trying to stop this...... Do not forget freakish spoon bending kids...

Wonderful! (0)

VikingBerserker (546589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011562)

Now I have the ideal excuse to have Kathleen Turner's number on speed dial!

On a more serious note (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22011750)

"...they may have found a key increase the conversion efficiency by a factor of 100.."
Um..Efficiency is increasing by a factor of 100? From what and to what?

I thought it was measured in percentages, but I'm obviously misunderstanding something, because I'm sure it isn't becoming 100% efficient. And if it did mean percent, that would put current efficiency below 1% efficient.

So was it worded badly, or am I just a moron?

Thanks,
Anonymous Coward (666)

Re:On a more serious note (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013244)

If the current efficiency rating is .006 then 100 times for efficient would be 60%.

Re:Wonderful! (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012692)

Now I have the ideal excuse to have Kathleen Turner's number on speed dial!
Unfortunately this tech comes 25 years too late. However, don't lose that number. It might still be useful for power generation using pre-petroleum technology (see:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whale_oil).

Re:Wonderful! (1)

Lobster Cowboy (605052) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015798)

For the love of god, someone please mod this up funny.

So... (5, Funny)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011566)

Between the cell phones being charged by shaking them, by solar power, and by body heat - at what point will they be blowing up in our pockets?

Snap Crackle & Pop (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011586)

Between the cell phones being charged by shaking them, by solar power, and by body heat - at what point will they be blowing up in our pockets?

I claim dibs on Rice Crispies-powered phones
   

Re:So... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22011682)

The only thing that blows up in my pocket is myself when I see pictures of your mom.

I kid, I kid. How's your sister doing? :D

So...Portable Monica. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012244)

"at what point will they be blowing up in our pockets?"

I believe Bill Clinton has one of those.

Re:So... (2, Funny)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013700)

If we've got shaking and body heat down as energy sources, I think we've just discovered vibrators that run forever.

And with solar power, we have at least one argument to get girls to masturbate outside. :-)

One step closer to telling the sand niggers... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014286)

to bug off! Oh happy day - when they suddenly realize that their insanity forced us to look for energy elsewhere and that the universe no longer requires their existence!

Downsides (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011568)

Slap Slap Slap - But m'aam, I just wanted to charge my cellphone and your breasts were handy.

     

Re:Downsides (0)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011666)

I've generated electricity with silicon before, I just inserted piezoelectric material into the breast implants. Or was that silicone?

Hm, I've got a great new policy with a noble rationalization. I've needed one ever since my "recycling menstrual blood" fell through.

Re:Downsides (1)

Al_Lapalme (698542) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011872)

This will sound weird, but, the first time I read : "But m'aam, I just wanted to charge my cellphone and your breasts were handy.", I actually read ".. but mom, I just.. ".

I had to read it again.

Re:Downsides (4, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012486)

This will sound funny, but, that's perfectly natural.

I'm sure plenty of people here have at one point thought that way about your mom.

Re:Downsides (3, Funny)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012578)

Hehe... "Hey baby, if I said you had a hot body, would you hold it against my phone?" ;-)

Re:Downsides (1)

ArAgost (853804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013472)

Is that your phone or are you just happy to see me?

Re:Downsides (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014668)

Its my phone. It's happy you're leaving.

Re:Downsides (1)

A1rmanCha1rman (885378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012712)

"Erm, babycakes,is that a Beretta or Dillinger in your Bra or are you just charging up your Blower?"

Why just cellphones? (5, Insightful)

ivan1011001 (751254) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011630)

Think bigger. Put these and some batteries near your brakes or under the hood of your car. Line the Shuttle with them, attach them to the boosters that get jettisoned. Tape them to politicians so all the hot air charges them.

Re:Why just cellphones? (1)

sound+vision (884283) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012044)

Isn't that pretty much how hybrids work?

Re:Why just cellphones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014370)

No, they don't use the excess heat, hybrids work by using the electric engine to convert kinetic energy to electricity when you brake and uses that to charge the batteries. The electric engine also does most of the accelerating because electric engines do that very efficiently and petrol engine aren't efficient at accelerating.

Re:Why just cellphones? (1)

shvytejimas (1083291) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012536)

Even better, one for both, CPU and GPU of a laptop, so at least some of the energy wasted both on heat and ventilation could be regained.

CPU fan? (1)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015884)

Can I get this sucker to cool my CPU? Hotter, more power, faster the fan spins. I bet it draws down the heat when it extracts energy (required by laws of thermodynamics) and equalizing the heat between the CPU and surrounding air should provide power rather than take it. Really hot here, not hot here... that screams power.

3... 2... 1... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22011644)

Matrix reference... go!

Re:3... 2... 1... (1)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011804)

There is no spoon.

I want to see the users manual (5, Funny)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011650)

I just hope the word "insert" doesn't appear in the instructions.

        Brett

Re:I want to see the users manual (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011996)

I just hope the word "insert" doesn't appear in the instructions.

I can't wait to get my Apple iShove, or maybe the less expensive inema.
           

Re:I want to see the users manual (1)

Plutonite (999141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012352)

Allow me to introduce the iGerbil:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=136cNGNd7Yg [youtube.com]

Not quite the same thing, but I saw this today and had to share :)

Needs a temperature gradient (3, Insightful)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011674)

Note that this of course does also need a temperature gradient to work. This is no magic electricity creating cooling device.

Re:Needs a temperature gradient (5, Insightful)

rmauger (1064578) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011822)

Right, I'm not a scientist, but TFA talks about all sorts of fantastic things (e.g. charging your iPod with body heat) that aren't mentioned in the Abstract of the cited piece in Nature. While the article does quote one of the authors for such claims, what the Nature article Abstract (I'm not paying $ to read stuff online) alludes to is improving the efficiency of potential co-generation from sources of waste heat from combustion--power plants, car engines, etc. Besides, if it's cold enough out that I'm wearing a winter coat, do I really want to shove a heat sucking iPod down my pants? Not really. But sticking it against my car's engine? Sure.

Also TFA mentions "...the discovery will depend on whether these rough nanowires will be efficient enough to make commercial sense." So yeah, I don't see it (soon) being any more energy efficient to manufacture heat converting nanowires for my iPod Nano than it would be to say, construct a battery. But maybe they have something that could better convert a massive heat gradient into electrical energy cheaper for the purposes of co-generation. Who knows, maybe even cut down on heat pollution.

Re:Needs a temperature gradient (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012722)

Note that this of course does also need a temperature gradient to work. This is no magic electricity creating cooling device.

Your balls are usually a couple of degrees cooler than the rest of the body. So the 'inserting' joke might not be too far off.

Re:Needs a temperature gradient (1)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015858)

Note that this of course does also need a temperature gradient to work. This is no magic electricity creating cooling device.
Maybe you weren't aware, but the human body runs at a significantly higher temperature than the world around it. You'd have a hard time finding a place that that temperature gradient didn't exist. All this means is there has to be a large air-access radiating surface. No more phones the size of a stick of gum, since your hand would cover the cold spot. We don't need a magic cold creating device. We have a magic heat creating device, and its name is tummy. Temperature gradients can go either direction from ambient average, and you don't need a whole lot of power to run a modern phone.

Think of the poor elderly gadget freaks... (1)

ichbineinneuben (1065378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011746)

...huddling before a fire, desperately trying to stay warm as their PDAs, cell phones, wireless earphones, etc. suck the little remaining heat from their bodies. wait a minute, by the time this tech becomes widespread that might be me.

Re:Think of the poor elderly gadget freaks... (1)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015924)

Uh, why wouldn't you just hold the PDA up to the fire?

This would be wonderful! (0, Offtopic)

slawo (1210850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011748)

Yay! At last! I will be able to use my girlfriend as an efficient energy source! All this unbearable heat will not be wasted anymore!
Now it's time to start a new company to sell special device recharging PJs: Recharge-wear, the PJs for hot chicks.

I'm a genius.

I think I'm missing something about this concept (1)

screamphilling (1173499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011756)

they talk about waste heat from steam turbines and car exhaust... and human bodies

is the sun's heat not enough to generate a substantial amount of energy? what would encasing one of these in a sealed dark glass box at lower latitudes do... or even inside of a hot car for that matter

Re:I think I'm missing something about this concep (1)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011832)

What would encasing one of these in a sealed dark glass box at lower latitudes do... or even inside of a hot car for that matter

Nothing. It needs a thermal flow to work, i.e. a hot end and a cold end. Just putting it in a uniformly hot environment is useless.

Re:I think I'm missing something about this concep (1)

badran (973386) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012092)

Wasted power from Human exhaust... beens anyone

Basic physics: no. (5, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011814)

Paging Dr. Carnot, Dr. Nicolas Carnot, call for you on line 2...

Human body thermal output is about 120 watts on average, skin surface area is 2 m^2, so a 50-cm^2 cell phone body can intercept 0.6 watts of body heat. BUT, the laws of thermodynamics place a limit on how much of that heat can be converted into useful work to charge the batteries in the phone. That limit depends on the temperature of the heat source and sink.

Suppose one side of the phone is in contact with your skin at 32 C (305 Kelvin), and the other side is in contact with room-temperature air at 27 C (300 K). (In practice, the temperature difference will be smaller, because the air near your body will be warmed above room temp.) The maximum efficiency one could get from these thermodynamic efficiency is (305-300)/300 = 1.7%.

And that's the theoretical maximum possible conversion efficiency. Real systems rarely come close to that.

SO, the most energy we could possibly get out of this generation system is 0.6 * 1.7% = 10 milliwatts. My iPhone's battery holds about 2400 mW-hours of juice, so if I installed this charging system and held it against my skin 24/7, it would take about 10 days to charge in the theoretical best case... and in practice, much longer than that.

This idea's dead in the water at the basic physics stage, before we even get to the engineering considerations.

Re:Basic physics: no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22011870)

What are you a dork or something? It's an Ipod it will charge faster than 10 days. Apple will make sure of that. Dude just get an ipod touch and stop living in the past. The future is apple.

FAG!!!

Re:Basic physics: no. (2, Informative)

sgartner (1108101) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011880)

You put a lot of thought into that message, but it is negated by just RTFA which says that the potential applications include "...personal power-jackets that could use heat from the human body to recharge cell-phones...". They aren't talking about the cell phone itself drawing the power, but potentially the entire inner surface of a piece of clothing (which would also have the entire outer surface of the piece of clothing as the cooling surface for differential).

However, this does sound like we will only be recharging cell phones this way in the winter...

Re:Basic physics: no. (2, Insightful)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011956)

To defend GP, the Slashdot article DOES imply the electronics would only charge themselves.

Re:Basic physics: no. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22011958)

You are using the wrong denominator, (T_cold), in your calculation, although it hardly matters in this case because the temperature difference is so small. The formula for maximum theoretical efficiency is:

(T_hot-T_cold)/T_hot

Using your numbers: (305-300)/305 = 1.64%

Re:Basic physics: no. (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011960)

the human body is roughly at 310 kelvin while the rest of the room is typically much cooler than this. given a good way to conduct heat from one end to the other, the temp difference could be on the order of 15 degrees not 5 making it about 5% still not that much but probaly good enough for a wrist watch or a pocket calculator. then again, if there was a way for the cell phone not to be using full power constantly, there's no reason why you couldn't use the extra power to charge a Ni/Cd battery and use the battery for higher power levels [ie when you're using it] or use the hot air expelled with every breath as the air you breathe out is quite warm, given a high surface area of hollow fibers that are made of [thermoelectric] material to make use of considerably larger amounts of that waste heat, the drawback being that you would look pretty silly with this device and it would likely be quite a hinderance just to get a few extra watts for "free"

Re:Basic physics: no. (2, Interesting)

david.given (6740) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011990)

SO, the most energy we could possibly get out of this generation system is 0.6 * 1.7% = 10 milliwatts... This idea's dead in the water at the basic physics stage, before we even get to the engineering considerations.

Actually, 10mW is loads. You're not going to charge batteries off that or run a GSM phone, but it's more than ample for powering things like wristwatches, calculators or medical sensors; and with appropriate design, there's no reason why you couldn't build a PDA that worked at that kind of power level. Microchip make a 16-bit PIC that runs at about 1.3mW per MIP. Combine this with an eink screen which only uses power when updating, burst radio powered by a capacitor for low bandwidth data transfer, and a lot of static RAM (which has standby loads in the microwatt range), and you could easily come up with a basic but useful device.

Re:Basic physics: no. (3, Informative)

Ewasx (207402) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012054)

You did not read the article, did you? Of course you didn't, this is slashdot!
The article is talking about using the technology in the clothes and using the energy from that to power a cellphone. This would give you a lot more surface. And I don't know where you live, but "room temperature" here is not so tropical. So the theoretical maximum according to your calculation would be more like ((305-295)/295) * 120 = about 4 watts. Not a lot, but my telephone charger can provide about 2.2 watts and my battery is charged within 2 hours with that...

Re:Basic physics: no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013230)

And I don't know where you live

My guess is the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter.

Re:Basic physics: no. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012148)

the most energy we could possibly get out of this generation system is 0.6 * 1.7% = 10 milliwatts
... but combined with a form of fusion, the devices will have all the energy they would ever need.

Oh wait!

Re:Basic physics: no. (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 6 years ago | (#22016324)

So crank up the air conditioner and make the room cooler. Or just use Peltier elements to drain heat from the cold end of the generator. Coming to think of it, you could simply have a closed compartment, use Peltier elements to move heat from one side to the other, and run the generator - and power the Peltiers - from the resulting temperature gradient forever and ever.

Re:Basic physics: no. (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22016542)

This idea's dead in the water at the basic physics stage, before we even get to the engineering considerations.

However you are forgetting the first two, pre-physics stages: Marketing and Investment.

The hot air (and subsequent thermal gradient) from these stages should allow thermodynamics to power these devices for at least as long as it takes the stock to tank.

Re:Basic physics: no. (1)

mandos (8379) | more than 6 years ago | (#22020582)

What if instead of charging a cell phone through body heat, a battery was charged through a larger heat source. One could run pipes through their driveway (before it was poured obviously) that water is pumped through. That's an average of 57 square meters with an average daily insolation that is between 3 and 8 kW/m^2/day. During the day the driveway heats up considerably, which could then heat up a water tank, say a 50 gallon tank in your garage. The water could be used with this device to generate electricity. If it could be feasibly scaled up to generate 1 to 2 kWh per day (after conversion inefficiencies are accounted for) that's 10 to 20 percent of a household's energy needs that would be generated daily. Some houses in places with snowy winters already have pipes in their driveway as part of a snow melt system. This would be similar but more likely used in warmer climates, the sunbelt states for instance, and taking heat from the driveway rather then giving it.

27C room temp??? Think not (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 6 years ago | (#22029458)

I dunno where the heck you live but 27C is NOT room temp. "Room temp" is 20-22C. If my house was 27C year round I would not be able to wear pants!

Assuming a more *NORMAL* room temp of 21C, the updated calculation is (305-294)/294 = 3.7%, or 21.76 milliwatts.

That is 4.5 days to charge fully from 0.

And you're also forgetting the point of this is not to take a dead battery from 0% to 100%, it is to MAINTAIN your current battery. As such I think this system could theoretically easily make it so you would rarely have to charge your battery.

Re:27C room temp??? Think not (1)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 6 years ago | (#22090144)

In my house the other day room temperature was about 42, this was not the first time this year that this has happened, nor will it be the last. Room temperatures of the high 20's during summer(air conditioning not withstanding) are far from unusual here.

still sucking that same old cock? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22011884)

hows it going linux fags? still being a bitch to that old hag that has gone nowhere? just keep sucking that dick you stupid fucking faggot.

The inverse makes silent sub air-conditioning (5, Interesting)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011932)

My dad was an engineer for a Naval submarine shipyard. He told me that thermoelectric panels attached to the inside of the hull cooled the submarine silently when a voltage was applied.

Hope that wasn't classified or anything - but then Dad passed away a while back.

Re:The inverse makes silent sub air-conditioning (2, Informative)

jamesshuang (598784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012088)

Thermoelectric cooling - it's how peltiers work. The effect has been known for a century... don't need to worry about classification! :-p

Re:The inverse makes silent sub air-conditioning (4, Insightful)

jc42 (318812) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013994)

The effect has been known for a century... don't need to worry about classification!

Actually, at least here in the US, you probably should still worry about it being classified information.

For example, various historians have mentioned that the Rosenbergs were executed for giving "secrets" to the Russians that apparently were available in a number of college-level physics textbooks at the time.

Decades later (but still a few decades before today), I did an end-of-chapter exercise in a physics text that was something like: Using equations E and F from this chapter, and table T in appendix A, calculate the critical masses of the following isotopes .... There was an asterisk at the end, and the footnote said that telling any of the answers to a non-citizen was a felony under US law and listing the possible penalties (which included execution).

The US government's security agencies don't consider previous publication in school textbooks to be a restriction on their right to classify information.

For another example, google for RSA encryption. I have one of those t-shirts that has the 4-line perl implementation of RSA, and on the back "Warning: This t-shirt is a munition" plus a reference to the appropriate regulation. I never had the nerve to wear it to the airport on an international flight, though I did wear it to a number of techie meeting where there were non-citizens. I kept wishing someone would get arrested for wearing one, since the trial could have been entertaining. But I suppose now they wouldn't bother with a trial; you'd just disappear to an undisclosed location in an unstated country for a few years and then dropped off on a hillside in Macedonia when they're done with you.

Re: RSA perl t-shirt (1)

kwilliam (919560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22017090)

I don't think you have to worry. According to the RSA website (http://www.rsa.com/rsalabs/node.asp?id=2327) you ought to be able to wear that shirt in any country, except "Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Serbia, Sudan, Syria, and Taleban-controlled areas of Afghanistan as of January 2000". Also, it appears RSA can be implemented in only 2 lines of Perl now! (http://www.cypherspace.org/adam/rsa/)

Re: RSA perl t-shirt (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 6 years ago | (#22017548)

Also, it appears RSA can be implemented in only 2 lines of Perl now!

Well, that's technical advance for you! I'll have to find that code. I expect it'll look like pure line noise. Also, I was being a bit generous with my original "4-line" description, since I counted the first #!/usr/bin/perl line, and that's not really what you could call perl code. Others only count it as three lines.

I did like the "-export-a-crypto-system-sig" comment in the original. Like many perl geeks, I have used it as a sig off and on over the years.

Re:The inverse makes silent sub air-conditioning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22019698)

Actually, at least here in the US, you probably should still worry about it being classified information.

In the "land of the free", you should probably worry about going to Gitmo if you piss off the wrong people. WIsh you guys stuck to your ideals. They're pretty damn good ideals.

Re:The inverse makes silent sub air-conditioning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013036)

Dear Michael Crawford, Please keep your schizophrenic all too conveniently personal stories to the asshole of the internet [kuro5hin.org] . We at Slashdot are all out to get you just like the thought police. Sincerely, The Slashdot Community

Thank you for your support. (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013048)

Every aspiring writer loves to hear about it when a fan appreciates their work.

Re:The inverse makes silent sub air-conditioning (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22016988)

My dad was an engineer for a Naval submarine shipyard. He told me that thermoelectric panels attached to the inside of the hull cooled the submarine silently when a voltage was applied.

Hope that wasn't classified or anything - but then Dad passed away a while back.


Let's just say I doubt it. Especially if it was "a while back". Won't say why, but trust me.

Anyway, the sea is an awesome heat sink - especially if you go down a bit in the right oceans. Just put your soda can on any seawater pipe. It's not that hard to cool a submarine conventionally (with seawater as the heat sink instead of air).

Re:The inverse makes silent sub air-conditioning (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22018106)

Anyway, the sea is an awesome heat sink - especially if you go down a bit in the right oceans. Just put your soda can on any seawater pipe. It's not that hard to cool a submarine conventionally (with seawater as the heat sink instead of air).
The problem with this is that you don't want to conduct heat into the surrounding seawater. It leaves an easily detectable heat plume.

In fact, you want to heat the interior of the sub relative to the surrounding sea. So you make the hot side of the thermoelectric panel face inwards.

Re:The inverse makes silent sub air-conditioning (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22020752)

First of all, I'm not speaking from theory, but from knowledge.

Secondly, think about it. Everything in the sub from the bodies to the machinery makes heat. It has to be transferred out and the only place it can go is into the sea. The only question (and it's not a question, I know how it is done, or was, anyway) is how.

reversible? (3, Interesting)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011936)

Is this effect reversible? Could it be turned into a super-efficient Peltier module?

should be (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024786)

Is this effect reversible? Could it be turned into a super-efficient Peltier module?

It ought to be.

The problem with Peltier cells is the conduction of heat across the cell by means other than the charge carriers that perform the heat pumping/thermoelectric generation. This breakthrough is a drastic reduction in heat conduction. So it ought to be applicable to both heat pumping and generation. In fact the efficient thermogenerator ought to be an efficient heat pump as well.

There is a better way. (2, Interesting)

headbulb (534102) | more than 6 years ago | (#22011948)

You are always moving. Most likely the phone is in your pocket moving with you.

Have you seen those ever lasting flashlights. Which use a magnet, a coil and a capacitor. The same concept could be used here. It might not keep the phone charged for heavy users but it could be a nice supplement to the charger.

Maybe if they really got creative they could reuse the coil and magnet as the vibrator.
OH and I didn't read the article. These are both interesting idea's but how much power can we really extract.

inthishouseweobeythelawsofthermodynamics (1)

sound+vision (884283) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012002)

I've recently seen an upswing in the abuse of the inthishouseweobeythelawsofthermodynamics tag.

There's nothing about changing heat into electricity that violates the laws of thermodynamics.

It may not be super-efficient, but it's "free" energy in the sense that it body heat will be created anyway, you may as well try to redirect a portion of that energy into something useful.

Re:inthishouseweobeythelawsofthermodynamics (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#22024820)

There's nothing about changing heat into electricity that violates the laws of thermodynamics.

But some of the hype in TFA DOES violate the laws of thermodynamics - exceeding the carnot cycle limit, sometimes by several orders of magnitude.

One of the other responses, for instance, calculates the power available from skin heat to a normal-sized cellphone at 10 mW. And the whole POINT of "waste heat" in a power plant is to dump it to ambient without restrictions that would raise the dump temperature and thus reduce the plant efficiency.

RTGs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012008)

I wonder whether RTGs [wikipedia.org] will see a benefit from this? That would give many possibilities for cool deep-space missions.

0 shortage (of anything) coming yOUR way (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012064)

no gadgets required. everybody will get a charge with the exception of those greed/fear/ego based LIEf forms devoted to unprecedented evile. it doesn't get much phonier than it is now? the creators' planet/population rescue initiative 'big flash' phase may be at hand? let yOUR conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071229/ap_on_sc/ye_climate_records;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE [yahoo.com]
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080108/ts_alt_afp/ushealthfrancemortality;_ylt=A9G_RngbRIVHsYAAfCas0NUE [yahoo.com]
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A [nytimes.com]

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying [google.com]

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html [cnn.com]

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html [cnn.com]

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html [cnn.com]

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece [timesonline.co.uk]
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

Personal Thermonuclear Generators (3, Interesting)

sgartner (1108101) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012074)

How about using these in a water-heater sized device in your home. With a isotope heat source at the bottom, a coil lined with these strings, filled with some kind of heat transferring liquid (say, water). You could put one of these in every home and without any moving parts (as in a traditional thermonuclear generator with giant turbines) it would be very reliable.

Re:Personal Thermonuclear Generators (3, Interesting)

jc42 (318812) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014088)

How about using these in a water-heater sized device in your home.

I've seen this suggestion any number of times, often with snide comments about how engineers have missed something obvious. This usually causes some engineer to simply mention that there's a better way. No matter how your water heater is powered, it's always more efficient to add insulation to the water heater, and use the fuel that you save to directly power an electrical generator. This skips the stage of extracting power from the water heater's heat loss, and can thus extract more electricity from the fuel (or use less fuel to generate the same electricity).

Unfortunately for such schemes, it's only practical to extract energy from a heat gradient if the heat gradient is going to be there anyway. Then, if the extra weight isn't a problem, you might be able to use some of the heat you're losing to produce a small amount of electricity "for free" (i.e., at no additional fuel cost).

Re:Personal Thermonuclear Generators (1)

sgartner (1108101) | more than 6 years ago | (#22019906)

I guess I confused you by using "water heater" and "sized" next to each other. How about "washing machine sized" or "garbage can sized" instead. I'm not suggesting a water heater (or a washing machine, or a garbage can, just to be clear) I'm suggesting a closed-loop thermonuclear electric generator that likely wouldn't need to be too big to put in your garage.

Re:Personal Thermonuclear Generators (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 6 years ago | (#22021654)

Oh, sure, that works fine. It's how a lot of the long-lived space probes have been powered. In the inner solar system, solar cells are more practical, but as you pass Jupiter and Saturn, they deliver less and less power, so a chunk of radium or other radioisotopes works a lot better.

But I'm a bit dubious about the thought of a small nuclear power plant in the basements of my neighbors' homes ...

For longest time, I wouldn't belive it... (1)

gfogus (1087935) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012128)

"For longest time, I wouldn't belive it...and then I saw the fields with my own eyes. Watch them liquefy the dead, so they could be fed intravenously to the living. And standing there, facing the pure horrifying precision, I came to realize the obviousness of the truth. What is The Matrix? Control. "The Matrix is a computer generated dream world, built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this." Morpheus holds up a battery to Neo Neo begins to panic.

Re:For longest time, I wouldn't belive it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012432)

shut up nerd herder.

Incredible, I thought about this just yesterday (1)

rvtheace (1094005) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012246)

We have guests over, and their 20-something daughter seems to have a mobile glued to her ear. I was wondering if it had a nuclear powerplant or something keeping it going. Immediately struck me that it would great if the phone could somehow be powered by body heat.

This, combined with a limited form of fusion... (1)

JamminBen (939801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012300)

Could give them all the power they will ever need!

Cure for obesity? (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012360)

So, is this a way to finally find a use for all those excess fast food calories?
(fun intended)

makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012454)

but what do I do with this methane gas I'm collecting?

Bring 'em on ! (2, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012508)

I'm always up for a heated discussion.

Next up: Lap-powered laptops (2, Funny)

Jeff Jungblut (744824) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012552)

So how soon until I can recharge my MacBook Pro with crotch heat? I'm thinking, maybe, perpetual porn machine.

Seebeck effect (2, Interesting)

piotrr (101798) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012564)

I thought the Seebeck effect [wikipedia.org] already had a conversion efficiency of 2-3%. How can you possibly increase that a hundredfold without breaking the laws of thermodynamics?

Copper Top (5, Funny)

Layth (1090489) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012798)

"[Scientists] may have found a key increase the conversion efficiency by a factor of 100." Let me guess, this is involves some form of fusion.. and the machines have found all the energy they will ever need. This happened in a dream once, that I was so sure was real..

Not thought through..? (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 6 years ago | (#22016858)

Does the technology work on stone-cold b*tches that dump you?

Charge Phone While Driving (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22018052)

I can't even count the number of times I've wanted to take a cellphone from someone who was talking while driving and shove it up their ass. Now, I have an excuse.

Laptop Heat ! (1)

dos4who (564592) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022314)

Well if body heat can charge a cell phone battery, surely the ball-burning heat the bottom of my laptop kicks out can charge it's own batteries and double my unplugged time??? ~m

This is gonna happen through the impantable market (1)

Michael_61J (1219420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22034990)

There are various research organizations (IMEC Belgium) looking into how to use the body's energy to power implantable devices (defib's, pacemakers, etc.) rather than batteries. They are looking at thermal, chemical, kinetic methods. The concept is birth to grave implantables that can also flex as the body grows and ages. They will be successful at some point. So it's a matter of developing these scavenging techniques, along with ultra low power semiconductors that will provide a foothold into the market. Once that happens, we all know the story. Incremental improvement, lower costs, larger markets, greater success. Whether you can do this with a power hungry cell phone remains to be seen. For cell phones, the big energy draw are the RF power amps behind the antenna. The distance to the cell towers will determine the minimum energy needed. Maybe pico cells at shorter distances are the key. On a lighter note. If they can develop internal energy scavenging, then I say they put a few USB ports on the outside of the skin. You've got the external supply and a friggin GREAT DIET PLAN!. Hey, you want to lose a few extra pounds, go to the airport and let travelers plug into you. Lose weight AND makes extra bucks! I'm writing a book called LOSE POUNDS WHILE YOU PLAY WOW! There's the answer to childhood obesity, and mobile energy.

New use for silicon? (1)

alexo (9335) | more than 6 years ago | (#22079712)

scientists have discovered a much more efficient way to use silicon to convert heat into electricity.
The "exotic dancers" will finally be able to contribute to the economy.
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