The UN climate change negotiations, now getting under way in Delhi,
have focused international attention once
more on the problem of global warming.
Experts agree there is a need to switch to renewable forms of energy
if production of greenhouse gases is to
be curbed. Now an Icelandic team has invented a radical device which can produce electricity from water.
The Thermator could play a major role in the non-polluting economies of the future.
The Thermator contains a semi-conductor crystal ©Varmaraf
It works by something called the thermo-electric effect, which scientists have known about for many years.
But while thermo-electric generators have mainly been used to power
spacecraft, such as Voyager and Galileo
using heat from radioactive materials, the Thermator is firmly rooted on Earth and works on nothing more than
Professor Thorstein Sigfusson, of the University of Iceland, says it
works by translating the difference between
the temperature of hot and cold water into energy.
He explains: "In between the hot and the cold side are crystals made of semi-conductors.
"As the heat is transferred through these crystals part of it is converted from heat energy into electric energy."
Professor Sigfusson said there was potential for using all sorts of
excess heat to fuel Thermators and he
added: "In car engines for example, only a fraction of the heat produced is turned into propelling energy."
By Sarah Miller
People pee a lot, and four African teenage girls have actually figured out a way to make pee useful. That’s right — even your pee. Doesn’t that make you want to rush out and drink a whole lot of beer right now and see how much electricity you can make? Oh, except we are pretty sure these girls were not drinking beer when they made this gadget, which was was presented this week in Lagos, Nigeria, at the fourth annual Maker Faire Africa, because it’s kind of complicated. And they are too young.
According to The Next Web’s Emil Protalinski, the urine-powered generator — which can turn one liter of urine into six hours of electricity — works like this.
So next time you pee and are about to flush it away to the pee’s happy hunting grounds, think about how these girls are so young and smart and innovative. And ask yourself, would you like a lower electric bill? Would you be willing to pee to get it? More importantly, do you want to be a person who, metaphorically, just pees and flushes, or do you want to be a hero?