New thermoelectronic generator

December 3, 2013 4:53 PM

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New thermoelectronic generator

WASHINGTON D.C. Dec. 3, 2013 -- Through a process known as thermionic conversion, heat energy -- such as light from the sun or heat from burned fossil fuels -- can be converted into electricity with very high efficiency. Because of its promise, researchers have been trying for more than half a century to develop a practical thermionic generator, with little luck. That luck may soon change, thanks to a new design -- dubbed a thermoelectronic generator -- described in AIP Publishing's Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy (JRSE).

Thermionic generators use the temperature difference between a hot and a cold metallic plate to create electricity. "Electrons are evaporated or kicked out by light from the hot plate, then driven to the cold plate, where they condense," explained experimental solid-state physicist Jochen Mannhart o...

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