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Capturing conversion

Technology

Heat turns banana and orange peel into energy-rich material. Renewable energy can be stored in heated carbon blocks.

Now, a research team at MIT has developed an all-solid device that converts 1900 to 2400°C heat back into electricity.

Their sandwich-design comprises 3 layers and uses the thermophotovoltaic principle.

Having captured high-energy photons from a white-hot heat source, the uppermost layer converts them to electricity.

Lower-energy light particles are captured by the middle layer. The bottom layer of gold, meanwhile, reflects any remaining photons back to the heat source.

The efficiency rating of 40% is higher than the 35% of steam turbines. These, however, are temperature-limited and high-maintenance because of moving parts.

Nevertheless, air can be pretty useful too.

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