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article imageNew technology to generate energy from windows

By Tim Sandle     Nov 9, 2018 in Science
Is it possible to generate energy from the windows found in office blocks and homes? The answer appears to be use, drawing on the enhanced power factor found with transparent thermoelectric nanowire materials.
The new technology is a way of drawing upon thermoelectric power factor while, at the same time, decreasing thermal conductivity, which generates energy. While previous studies have shown how high-performance thermoelectric materials can generate energy, scientists based at Osaka University have advanced and improved upon the concept. The Japanese researchers shown that by incorporating zinc oxide nanowires into zinc oxide films, the potential thermoelectric power can increase three-fold larger than previous developments in the field.
A thermoelectric generator is a type of solid state device which converts heat flux (that is, temperature differences) directly into electrical energy. This occurs due to a phenomenon called the Seebeck effect (a form of thermoelectric effect). The Seebeck effect refers to the conversion of heat directly into electricity occurring at the junction of different types of wire. A unique aspect of thermoelectric energy conversion is that the direction of energy flow is reversible. While the phenomenon has been none for a long time, nanotechnology allows technologists to lower the thermal conductivity of semiconductors whose electrical properties are excellent and to capture energy.
The implications of the new research are that high-performance transparent thermoelectric devices could be fitted into windows of in any transparent object in order to enable energy recovery. This concept therefore represents a different approach to renewable energy. Windows represent an especially good mechanism, with window glass, with differing indoor and outdoor temperatures, providing a powerful heat source for thermoelectric generation. The research paves the way for further studies using low-cost and environmentally-friendly transparent materials.
The research findings have been published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, with the research paper titled "Methodology of Thermoelectric Power Factor Enhancement by Controlling Nanowire Interface."
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