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Originally published June 26 2011

Emerging green technology to capture 'waste' heat and turn it directly into electricity

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Researchers from the University of Minnesota's (UM) College of Science and Engineering are working with a new alloy material that they say is capable of turning waste heat -- like the kind emitted from vehicle exhaust pipes or from air conditioning units -- directly into electricity. Though still in its infancy, the technology has the potential to revolutionize the way heat is recycled, and it may one day offer individuals the ability to recycle an unlimited amount of heat into free energy.

"This research is very promising because it presents an entirely new method for energy conversion that's never been done before," said Richard James, head of the research team and professor of aerospace engineering and mechanics at the college. "It's also the ultimate 'green' way to create electricity because it uses waste heat to create electricity with no carbon dioxide."

Published in the new scientific journal Advanced Energy Materials, the findings explain how the scientists developed their new multiferroic alloy, known as Ni45Co5Mn40Sn10, which involves heat absorption caused by rapid transformations between solid states, which in turn produces electricity. Or to put it more simply, the unique alloy material absorbs heat when it morphs, and in generates electricity.

Multiferroic processes are not necessarily new, but the kind developed by the UM scientists minimizes a process called hysteresis, which basically infers the loss of heat energy during its conversion to electricity. By minimizing hysteresis, the scientists were able to capture and conserve breakthrough amounts of energy from their unique process.

"This research crosses all boundaries of science and engineering," added James. "It includes engineering, physics, materials, chemistry, mathematics and more. It has required all of us within the university's College of Science and Engineering to work together to think in new ways."

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