By Ganesh Bhatt
New Delhi, Jun 4 (IANS): Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi are developing thermoelectric materials that can efficiently convert heat into electricity.
In recent times, solar power has received a lot of attention, but other alternative sources are equally promising, even if less known.
Ajay Soni, Associate Professor, IIT Mandi, is studying materials that can convert heat into electricity. This is completely different from solar energy.
The process does not require very large equipment or huge and extremely hot objects like the Sun.
Soni said that many electronic gadgets can be charged only by human body heat.
The IIT said that industrial and energy generation processes often produce a huge amount of waste heat that gets absorbed in the atmosphere. A group of scientists in India are working on new materials that can utilise the waste heat generated from these processes and facilitate its usage.
A team of researchers have found several new smart materials which can efficiently convert waste heat to electricity and power small home appliances and automobiles.
Materials that can convert waste heat to electrical energy are called thermoelectric materials. Electrical voltage is generated by keeping one end of the material heated and the other end cold, which creates a temperature gradient.
According to Soni, he has developed a prototype module which can absorb heat from the human body and convert it into electricity. Through this technology, mobile phones can be charged simply by holding them in the palm or keeping them in the pocket.
Similarly, a laptop can be charged by simply placing it on the lap, without any charger, socket or switch.
Soni said that the heat emitted out of the human body is sufficient to charge these devices. All these devices will have a small module set. The module fitted inside the device will charge the device by converting body heat into energy.
According to the research, not only mobiles and laptops but many other devices like wristwatches, and earphones can be charged with human heat.
Soni also said that during his research, he found that the module developed by his team can efficiently convert the heat emanating from various devices other than the human body into electricity.
When the bonnet of a car heats up, energy can be created from it.
Soni said that there are many such big equipment that radiate heat and this heat can be converted into electricity. Till now, it is wasted as heat, becoming a major cause of global warming.