New Ionic, Liquid-Based Thermocell Harvests Waste Heat

Harvesting waste heat from power stations and vehicle exhaust pipes could soon provide a valuable supply of electricity. Researchers from Australia's Monash University have developed a breakthrough 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 electrical energy. The new thermocell device has the highest power outputs yet reported and no carbon emissions. It 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. In this video, Monash University Ph.D. student Theodore Abraham explains how to measure differences in ionic liquid electrolytes.