Glass fibers coated with a thermoelectric material recover wasted energy
Purdue University researchers have recently developed a new technique that uses an innovative nanotechnology to recover wasted energy. This project will not only considerably reduce the usage of energy, but will also minimize the harmful emissions from the power plants that are harmful not only for the natural environment but also for the human health.
To recover this waste energy the researchers have coated the glass fibers with a newly developed ‘thermoelectric’ material. When this thermoelectric material is heated from one side, the electrons from this side travel to the other cooler end, thus generating an electric current. The glass fibers are coated with this new material by immersing them in a solution containing nano crystals, which are then exposed to heat in order to blend the crystals.
Such coated fibers are then efficiently used to cover the manufacturing pipes in factories and power plants, as well as engines of the automobiles, to bring back much of the wasted energy . This process will also reduce the amount of heat lost from them. Apart from this these covered glass fibers can also be used to create a novel technology through which these fibers can then be woven into a special fabric, which can be used to make garments for the summer. These new thermo electrical devices are very flexible and are a perfect match for the irregular shapes of the pipes as compared to the conventional devices which are very fragile and require a lot of material.
This new approach gives way to the same level of performance as conventional thermoelectric materials, but as it requires less material, it reduces the cost of fabrication and is therefore makes mass production more feasible. Additionally this material is more efficient and its efficiency ha s been calculated by the researchers using the ZT number.