Over the years, many researchers have sought to convert heat to electricity directly, without benefit of turbine or generator. Now, professor Peter Hagelstein of MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, working with Yan Kucherov of ENECO Inc., reports a device based on semiconductor technology that achieves this goal. Their approach builds on earlier thermionic "vacuum gap" design where electrons boil off a cathode, traverse the gap, and are absorbed into a colder anode, to convert heat to electricity. However, operating temperatures greater than 1,000C limited the usefulness of such scenarios. The new strategy improves performance by replacing the traditional vacuum gap with a multi-layer semiconductor structure. These solid-state conversion devices operate between 200 and 450C–typical temperatures for waste heat recovery. Hagelstein suggests that captured heat lost through automobile engine exhaust might be converted into electricity. The researchers' work has been sponsored by ENECO and DARPA. Patents have been applied for in the U.S. and Europe. For more information, contact Elizabeth Thomson at the MIT News Office, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A middle school team from Rochester, Mich., has again nabbed the grand prize in the annual international Future City Competition, which drew students from 37 regions of the United States, as well as from England and China.
The word “smart” is becoming the dumbest word around. It has been applied to almost every device and system in our homes. In addition to smartphones and smart meters, we now hear about smart clothing and smart shoes, smart lights, smart homes, smart buildings, and every trendy city today has its smart city project. Just because it has a computer inside and is connected to the Web, does not mean it is smart.
Are you being paid enough? Do you want a better job? According to a recent survey Manpower released just before Engineers Week, employers and engineers don't see eye-to-eye about the state of US engineers' skills and experience.
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