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Researchers Use Thermocell to Harvest 'Waste Heat'

A small team of Monash University researchers working under the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) has developed an ionic liquid-based thermocell.

Thermocell technology is based on harnessing the thermal energy from the difference in temperature between two surfaces and converting that energy into electricity.

The new thermocell could be used to generate electricity from low grade steam in coal fired power stations at temperatures around 130 °C. This would be implemented by having the steam pass over the outer surface of the hot electrode to keep it hot while the other electrode is air or water cooled.

PhD student Theodore Abraham said that by using heat already produced in industrial processes that would otherwise be untapped, the thermocell is an attractive method of relieving some of the present reliance on fossil fuels.

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