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Self-cooling Thermoelectric System Uses No Electricity

A prototype thermoelectric device that can provide free cooling for any device that gives off heat (over 30ºC) has been developed by researchers at the UPNA/NUP-Public University of Navarre.

Many types of devices generate excess heat, which then needs to be dissipated, requiring external power.

This new innovation, however, could allow power converters and transformers to produce enough power to cool themselves, without any external energy costs.

“When these devices are functioning, they heat up and need to be cooled down.In many cases, heat exchangers with fans are used which naturally need to be powered externally and consume a certain amount of electrical power. What we do is take advantage of the heat flow emitted by the power converter and transformer to produce the electrical power needed to make the fans work. That way we achieve the cooling of the device and control its temperature, but without any energy cost.” – David Astrain-Ulibarrena, UPNA/NUP’s Department of Engineering, Mechanics, Energy and Materials

This new self-cooling thermoelectric device isn’t totally new, as the technology has been widely used for applications at higher temperatures (250ºC to 1,200º C), and is integrated in military and aerospace uses, including powering the Mars Curiosity rover.

Researchers aim to adapt this technology to low temperatures, and to optimize its application for civilian purposes. According to the research team, their computational model shows that they could generate up to 1 kW of power for every cubic meter of industrial flue.

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