Science/Tech

How This Device Generates Electricity From The Cold Night Sky

In an attempt to lessen the use of fossil fuels (and lessen the environmental damage it’s making at the same time), alternative sources of energy have grown more prominent during the last couple of decades. There’s the brilliant invention of the windmill and dams, which are both used to produce wind power and hydropower that are then converted into electricity, therefore making energy via a sustainable source.

From all of these, none is more famous than solar power generated by solar panels, which have been seen as steady option throughout the last few years. With that in mind however, experts and scientists have recently come up with an anti-solar panel, which as you guessed it, harvests power from the cold night sky.

Anti-Solar Power

Called as a nighttime generator, the new device is recently shown to be capable of harnessing the difference in temperature between outer space and our very own planet, which it can then convert into usable energy/electricity. According to the officially published report in Joule, a bigger version of this is in the works and could someday be able to power homes that are either in remote or low-resource areas.

The device, which at the moment can power a small LED light, is powered at its core by a thermoelectric generator. This generator, which is surrounded by insulation to keep the heat out, produces electricity when one of its sides is cooler than the others. The generator’s bottom is also exposed to an aluminum plate, which is continually warmed by ambient air. At night, the top plate can then get cooler than the bottom plate, therefore producing electricity.

The device is engineered by Engineer Wei Li of Stanford University along with colleagues .

"It’s a very clever idea," Yuan Yang, a materials scientist at Columbia University, who is not involved in the work, said. "The power generation is much less than solar panels,” which generally produce at least 100 watts per square meter. But this nighttime generator may be useful for emergency backup power or energy for people living off the grid."

According to many other scientists, the device could prove useful for a lot of unconventional situations. It just needs further refinement and improvement to be useful.

milky-way-984050_960_720 The night sky. Photo by Pixabay (CC0)

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