Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thermionic energy conversion

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Thermionic energy conversion is a mechanism for generating electricity from heat without bulky equipment like steam turbines and generators.

So far, it has been impractical, but one company, Eneco, claims to have solved some of the key problems and will soon be shipping a solid-state energy converter with an efficiency of 20-30%.

The idea is that one of these can be installed in a computer, which can use waste heat (that is currently just blown out the exhaust fans) to generate power that can be used by the computer itself.

Clearly, this can't be a perpetual motion (that's impossible), but if it can reduce power consumption (and therefore battery life on laptops) by 20-30%, then this will be a very important piece of tech.

According to AppleInsider, Apple and Dell are in talks with Eneco about getting these used in their products.