We seem to be surrounded with an incredible array of devices and technology selections that show we are serious about focusing on reusable and renewable energy. However, that subject falls to the wayside around holiday time when you realize that very little advancement has been made in the world of batteries. Every absolute must-have device that we simply can’t live without, is powered by these bulky, energy wasting sources. But that annual requirement to stock up on packages and packages of batteries may be taking a major turn due to the development of small, fuel efficient generators.

Our world encompasses a number of technologies that simply eat energy: phones, toys and tablets are just a few of these. The historical use of batteries is limited to the amount of energy they can produce per pound and the fact that they are not renewable or sustainable. Scientists around the world have been focusing on this topic and may have come up with microchip style batteries based on thermophotovoltaics. This involves the same process as the current thermophotovoltaics, which is converting light into electricity, but in this case they are accessing the heat from infrared rays (or any other warm source). This concept has been on the drawing board for a long time, but the challenge has been the size. The new thermophotovoltaic generator has been called the ‘power plant in a button-size’. The generator is a one square centimeter area microchip and may be as important of a game-changer as electricity itself.

The goal of the thermophotovoltaic process for production as fuel efficient batteries is the conversion of chemical energies into electricity through the lack of any moving parts, noise and vibration; on millimeter scale technologies. In essence, we will be able to run our energy-hungry devices for a period of weeks, on a single fuel cartridge. The experimental prototype is made of silicon and burns pure oxygen and propane. The principle design is the ability to use a range of fuels from butane, propane, and even liquid biofuels. The thermophotovoltaic cells themselves are made of indium, gallium, antimony and arsenic; with an additional component that converts a raw electric output into useful levels of voltage and current.

The researchers addressed a weakness potential of the thermophotovoltaic generators when they realized the limitation of the conversion on limited band wavelengths of light to electricity, thereby losing the rest of the thermal energy. They took a truly Buck Rogers approach by adding photonic crystals in between the reactor and the thermophotovoltaics. The resulting trials have shown an efficiency rate of 2.7% in the heat-to-electricity conversion, with expected goals soon to reach 2.5%.

The researchers are still in the preliminary stages of this technology and it is a continual work in progress. However, the success shown so far leads many of us to look forward to having microchip sized, fuel efficient generators in every device that we currently rely on. This is a true jump in technology, but that also means we won’t have to stock up on packages of large batteries during the holidays to power our kids toys.

Sources: http://txchnologist.com/post/44059516382/tiny-efficient-fuel-burning-generators-could-replace

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6 Responses to “Small Fuel Efficient Generators: the Future of Batteries?”

  1. 1
    OutToGetUs Says:

    I have always thought that items like batteries and razors are a conspiracy from the companies to get us to pay ridiculous prices for things that need to be replaced. The technology has always been there, but it isn’t good for business to give the public a longer lasting or self-generating battery. It’s always about profits and the bottom line. Past companies came up with patents and the big corps bought them out and put them on the shelf. Maybe this will change the picture.

  2. 2
    BeetleJuice Says:

    We may have finally gotten to the point where the topic of energy has overcome the landfills that are heaped with batteries. If you look into the polluting contribution that every battery makes, it’s shocking that no one came up with this before.

  3. 3
    MyNameIsSue Says:

    If this is for real, then we will probably be able to save tons of wasted energy and actually help the planet. We need to support companies like this, because without them, we may be dooming not only the world, but ourselves along with it. It’s time for humanity to grow up and face what we have done and make every effort to turn it around and fix it.

  4. 4
    OutToGetUs Says:

    I have always thought that items like batteries and razors are a conspiracy from the companies to get us to pay ridiculous prices for things that need to be replaced. The technology has always been there, but it isn’t good for business to give the public a longer lasting or self-generating battery. It’s always about profits and the bottom line. Past companies came up with patents and the big corps bought them out and put them on the shelf. Maybe this will change the picture.

  5. 5
    MyNameIsSue Says:

    If this is for real, then we will probably be able to save tons of wasted energy and actually help the planet. We need to support companies like this, because without them, we may be dooming not only the world, but ourselves along with it. It’s time for humanity to grow up and face what we have done and make every effort to turn it around and fix it.

  6. 6
    BeetleJuice Says:

    We may have finally gotten to the point where the topic of energy has overcome the landfills that are heaped with batteries. If you look into the polluting contribution that every battery makes, it’s shocking that no one came up with this before.

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