My research team has devised an unprecedented way to transform the antenna systems commonly used in automobile radio to capture waves to work efficiently in capturing the excess heat in their surroundings and converting it into usable electricity.
Amina Belkadi, the lead researcher in the study conducted by the Department of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering (ECEE) at the University of Colorado Boulder, USA, explained the innovative technology.
Belkadi said, the new technology is called rectifying rectennas, as it absorbs the excess heat in its surroundings, heats it, and converts it into energy, and that the new type of traditional rectenas systems that are used in antennas, usually convert electromagnetic waves into electricity.
The site Nanowerk for technical research news, said Tuesday, that previous studies had suggested that the Rectinase technology works to harvest the heat emitted from factory stacks and bakery ovens that go to no avail.
It was also suggested that they be installed on balloons that fly high above the surface of the earth to capture the radiant energy from the ground to outer space, but these studies did not achieve their goals.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have designed a device so small that it cannot be seen by the naked eye, as it works about 100 times more efficiently than similar tools used to harvest energy from the heat in its surroundings.
Belkadi explained that in the traditional Rectenas technique, electrons must pass through an insulator to generate energy, but these insulating materials add a lot of resistance to the devices to produce an amount of electricity.
In the new study, the researchers decided to add two insulating materials to their device, not just one insulating material, as this addition had an unexpected effect to create an active phenomenon called a quantum well, where electrons pass through the solid without resistance to energy in a process called resonant tunneling.
The research team tested the technology in the lab, creating on a hot plate a network of about 250,000 rectinases, then raising the temperature.
The device was able to capture less than 1% of the heat produced from the hot dish, as researchers believe that this percentage will increase, with the use of different insulating materials.
In turn, said Jarrett Model, co-author of the study, at the present time the efficiency of the device is low, but it will increase, as it must be very small and size several times thinner than a human hair in order to work efficiently.
The researchers aspire that the new technology Rectenas will someday be placed above everything on Earth, from solar panels on the ground to air vehicles to capture excess heat from everywhere and even from outer space, and convert it into energy at any time.
Rectinas technology first appeared in 1964, when an American engineer, William Browne, used microwave waves to power a small helicopter.