Your kitchen table could charge your phone with free power
Turn wasted heat from around your house back into electricity. That’s the simple yet clever idea behind Heat Harvest that Sergey Komardenkov and Vihanga Gore developed during a two-week workshop. Heat Harvest is a device that can either stand alone or be integrated into household items, such as tables, to capture wasted heat from our everyday objects and turn it into free, green electricity that can be reused at home.
We don’t think much about the excess heat our homes produce, even though there is so much of it. Everything from our cookware and tea pots to computers and game consoles can get very hot to the touch, but we just let the heat dissipate into the air. This is a terrible waste, because the heat is actually energy that can be reused in our homes, bringing down our energy bills along with our impact on the planet.
Heat Harvest uses thermoelectricity to capture wasted heat and convert it into electricity. It exploits basic physics, putting to use the fact that temperature differences between two surfaces can generate electricity. Recent developments in nanotechnology have also made the conversion of heat to electricity more efficient than ever.
Of course we should also try and make smarter home appliances that use less energy when we are not using them, but they would still generate heat that we can turn into electricity and reuse.
“We imagine two possible products that use the technology”, says Vihanga. “The first is table tops that extract heat from hot objects that are placed on top of them. These could be anything from a pot of soup to a frying pan straight from the kitchen stove. The second product is heat harvesting pads that you could place beneath TV set top boxes or heat-emitting power adapters anywhere in the home.”
Wireless charging devices are already on the market, meaning that it is now possible to feed wasted heat back into the household’s electricity network and charge the very devices that generated the waste in the first place. It’s an efficient and sustainable solution to our wasteful modern society.
“Of course we should also try and make smarter home appliances that use less energy when we are not using them”, says Sergey. “But they would still generate heat that we can turn into electricity and reuse.”
A typical notebook computer, when used moderately, consumes around 40 watts of electricity and produces an equivalent amount of heat. What if we could harness this heat, and reuse it as electricity in the household?