Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a liquid thermoelectric device that works to convert the wasted heat from industry into electricity. The device is very efficient in converting the heat into electricity and provide an affordable solution to transform wasted heat into electricity.

Industries that work with a high temperature such as steel and glass produce a large amount of wasted heat energy which can be transformed into energy. However, the commercially available solid-state thermoelectric generator do not operate at such a high temperature. Intrigued by the abundant of wasted heat from those industries, a member of the Materials Processing Center research community at the MIT, Youyang Zhao, tried to find a new device to work at very high temperature.

Zhao is currently joining the research group of an Assistant Professor of Metallurgy in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Professor Antoine Allanore. He and his colleague, Charles Rinzler tried to build a thermoelectric device that operates in a liquid state of tin sulfide, rather than bismuth telluride, which usually used in the commercial thermoelectric generator.

From several testing, their new thermoelectric device is capable of operating at the higher temperature than the commercially available thermoelectric devices to transform wasted heat into electricity. The thermoelectric device is able to operate at the 950 to 1,074 degrees Celsius (1,742 to 1,965 degrees Fahrenheit). While the thermoelectric devices normally operate at 500 degrees Celsius (932 Fahrenheit).

His research of the new device to transform wasted heat into electricity has been published in the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology vol. 6/3. The research paper is titled "Molten Semiconductors for High Temperature Thermoelectricity."

"I first heat up the sample to its melting point and then scan the temperature up to 200°C above melting and then scan back while doing multiple measurements," Zhao said regarding his newly device that able to transform wasted heat into electricity at the very high temperature. "What we found is the property is fairly consistent.”

Thermoelectric generator is a device that can convert wasted heat into electricity. The device transform the heat flux or temperature difference into electricity through a Seebeck effect.