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Scientists demonstrate generation of electricity from coldness of universe

Conventional resources of energy have been providing and powering our needs since electricity was made in the late 1800s. The conventional resources of energy are polluting as well as a temporary solution for providing electricity. They are going to get over in the next couple of years after which we humans have to look out and seek other alternative resources, in the recent decade we have seen a good rise in the dependency on renewable sources of energy as we found out ways to develop electricity from water, wind, thermal and pressure differences.

Solar panels are currently the sector in boom however there are disadvantages to it. The drawbacks are that it cannot produce electricity in the absence of sunlight. Many regions of the Earth have a frigid zone where the chilling outflow can be harvested using thermal differences using the same kind of physics we use for solar panels. Scientists have demonstrated a way to generate a measurable amount of electricity, directly from the coldness of the universe. The semiconductor device faces the infrared rays of the sun and uses temperature difference of the Earth and the space to produce electricity.

In optoelectronic physics, there is a vast symmetry between incoming and outgoing radiations. In comparison to the leveraging energy (incoming), the negative illumination effect allows electricity to be harvested as the heat is transferred. The technology today is unable to capture the negative temperature difference very efficiently. The temperature in space is absolute zero and thus devices can be used to generate electricity.

The group found that negative illumination diode has the ability to generate 64 nanowatts of electricity per square meter,  this is very less than the theoretical standard. However Dr.Mashashi Ono, the author on this paper published in Applied Physics Letters, said that through increasing the optoelectronic efficiency and the material used, the power generated per square meter can be increased hugely. But when calculations are made and when atmospheric factors are taken into consideration we see that it has the ability to generate a power of 4 watts per square feet theoretically, which is enough to run power machinery during night time.

A typical solar panel can, however, produce close to 100-200 watts per square feet. Shanhui Fan, an author of a similar paper said that same principle could be used to recover waste heat from machines. From now onwards, however, he and his group are focusing on increasing the efficiency of the panels which if succeeds will be a breakthrough for mankind in its thirst to develop non-conventional resources of energy. Fan also comments that the vastness of the universe is a thermodynamic resource.

peltier effect internal

Scientists able to demonstrate cooling without additional energy consumption

Scientists from the University of Zurich have come up with a very simple device which allows the flow of heat from a cold object to a warm one without the help of any external source of power. At first glance, it seems that the fundamental law of physics is violated here. The study has been published in the Science Advances journal.

We have always known that when we keep a hot object it gradually cools down. For example, if we keep a teapot containing hot water on a table, after some time the temperature will cool down to that of the table, it would not fall farther. This is a demonstration of the second law of thermodynamics, which states that entropy of a closed system always increases. That means heat flows from a hot to a cold object, not the other way.

However, apparently, the results of the experiment conducted by Andreas Schilling, professor of Physics at the University of Zurich appears to violate the second law of thermodynamics. Researchers were able to cool the temperature of a piece of copper weighing nine grams from more than 100 degrees to much below than the room temperature without using any additional power source. Schilling says that a theoretical model of the device can transform boiling water into ice without using any amount of energy.

For getting this result, scientists used the Peltier element, which is normally used for cooling minibars. The element can act as a heat pump and transfer heat from one side to another with the help of electric current, depending on its direction. It has been previously used in experiments such as in electrical inductor for developing an oscillating heat current which keeps on changing direction. Heat flows from a cold to a hot object hence the temperature of the colder object further goes down.

Researchers have demonstrated that thermal oscillating circuit can also work in a passive manner. Without any external power supply, the flow of heat took place from a cold copper piece to a warm heat bath of temperature 22 degrees, without any transformation to other forms of energy. It did not violate the law of thermodynamics as it was shown that entropy of the entire system increased with time.

As the commercial Peltier was used, the temperature difference of only 2 degrees was recorded compared to the ambient temperature. Scientists claim that if the ideal Peltier (yet to discovered) could be used, cooling up to -47 degrees is possible. For a larger scale application, the efficiency of Peltier elements has to be increased.