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3D Printed Device Sets Efficiency Record

The Science Times reports on a recent development made by researchers at Swansea University’s SPECIFIC Innovative and Knowledge Center.

Apparently, these scientists have created a “new 3D printed thermoelectric device capable of converting heat into electric power with an efficiency factor over 50 percent higher than the previous best for printed materials and cheap to produce bulk.”

The team embarked upon this task due to the fact that in the UK, “around one-sixth of all the energy used by industry ends up as waste heat, emitted into the atmosphere.  A huge step forward in helping the industry cut its energy bills and reduce its carbon footprint is to harness this industrial waste to create electricity.”

This is just what the Swansea team has done.  “Thermoelectric materials turn differences in temperature into electric power or vice versa…[however,] the methods used to manufacture these materials require lots of energy and are therefore expensive.”

So the Swansea team developed a low-cost solution: “they formulated tin selenide into a type of ink which they could print to test its properties.  The next step was to develop a kind of 3D printing technology to produce a small thermoelectric generator made out of the ink.  The innovation could be of particular benefit to industries where high temperatures are involved in the manufacturing process. One example is steelmaking, which generates vast amounts of heat and requires immense electrical power. Therefore, recycling the heat into power has the potential to boost energy efficiency significantly.”

Additionally, as the team pointed out, “turning waste heat into electrical power can boost energy efficiency significantly, cutting bills and reducing carbon emissions.  Their findings reveal printed thermoelectric materials using tin selenide are a promising way forward.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of The Science Times

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