Thermal Resonator Generates Electricity from Thin Air

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It may sound impossible, but engineers have created an incredible device that can pull electricity out of thin air. The device may provide an alternative to traditional sources of clean energy, such as solar, wind power, and moving water.

Called a thermal resonator, this device converts the fluctuations in temperature between day and night into electricity.

Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology claim that it can keep devices powered for years without ever needing a new set of batteries, sunlight, wind, or even downtime to recharge.

Michael Strano, professor of chemical engineering at MIT, said in a statement, “It’s something that can sit on a desk and generate energy out of what seems like nothing. We are surrounded by temperature fluctuations of all different frequencies all of the time. These are an untapped source of energy.”

MIT

MIT

How engineers converted a temperature differential into electrical power

The device doesn’t require two different temperature inputs. One side of the device captures heat using a special material that ensures slow radiation of heat, so the temperature of one side of the device always lags behind the other.

The researchers used a carefully chosen combination of modern materials to create the device, including metal foam made from copper or nickel, graphene, and a synthetic wax called octadecane, which is capable of storing and releasing a huge amount of heat.

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