Do you feel the warmth coming off your computer or cell phone? That's wasted energy radiating from the device. With automobiles, it is estimated that 60% of fuel efficiency is lost due to waste heat. Is it possible to capture this energy and convert it into electricity?


Researchers working in the area of thermoelectric power generation say absolutely. But whether it can be done cost-effectively remains a question.


For now, thermoelectric generators are a rarity, used primarily in niche applications like space probes, where refueling is not a possibility. Thermoelectricity is an active area of research, particularly among automobile companies like BMW and Audi. However, to date, the cost of converting heat to electricity has proved to be more expensive than the electricity itself.


Anveeksh Koneru, a senior lecturer in mechanical engineering at The University of Texas Permian Basin (UTPB), is exploring a new method for capturing waste heat by harnessing the quantum mechanical motions of electrons in spin polarized materials.

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