Introduction: Charge Your Cellphone Using Wasted Heat (and Build a Steampunk Wall-E)

Picture of Charge Your Cellphone Using Wasted Heat (and Build a Steampunk Wall-E)

We updated the instructable with a new implementation you can build without spending all that money on those expensive seebeck generators. This one uses Peltiers in reverse to generate rather than cool. They aren't as efficient but they are much more affordable. Plus most of the parts required are made from scrap.

Quick Jump
'''How to build a Steampunk WALL E'''

First Intro Video

Companies such as BMW are investing in Thermoelectric Generators to make their cars more efficient by replacing the alternator. Thermoelectric Generators convert wasted heat from the engine into electrical power. In this instructable we show how you can use the same technology right now at home to collect heat energy from car exhausts, waste oil burners and even our hands. We can power electronics, joule thiefs, super caps, Lego Car and anything else you can imagine.

This is our Epilog Laser Contest Entry. If you like it please vote for us.


Step 11'''How to build a Steampunk WALL E'''

Step 6Fire Powered Lego Car (Video)

Step 10Thermoelectric Joule Thief (LED that lights up from oven heat)

Step 1Whats a Seebeck? Is it different from a Peltier?

Step 2How much power does a Seebeck generate

Step 3Building an inefficient 5V regulator

Step 5Thermoelectric Implementations

Step 7More Efficient Switching Boost circuit / Info for designers

Step 8FAQs

Just interestingThermoelectricity from Tellurex

Stick around and learn about the the difference between peltier and seebeck units, and what electrical circuits you could use to make a green impact on our environment by utilizing wasted heat.

Keep on reading and enjoy our videos :).
- SplitReaction

Step 1: How Thermoelectric Units Work

Picture of How Thermoelectric Units Work
Thermoelectric units have three modes of operation. You can use them for heating, cooling or generating electricity. Peltier units are used to cool and Seebeck units are used to generate electricity.

Here is a Peltier unit freezing water in 30 seconds.

Here is a mislabeled (whoops) Seebeck unit powering a motor. The thermoelectric unit generates electricity as heat passes through it from the fire to the ice water. The unit has a thin layer of thermal grease to help conductivity. It sits on a aluminum bar in ice water keeps the other side at 32F so we had a baseline. The top of the thermoelectric element is covered with metal to protect it from being scorched. It turns out we really didn't need it.

Our team member Chris LoBello was recently featured for taking first place in Polytechnic University Inno/Ventions competition with this idea.

Some Fun Photos Below of our test setup

Step 2: Specifications (warning Details and Science)

Picture of Specifications (warning Details and Science)

An iPod requires 2.5 Watts to charge (5V 500mA).

Chargers for other devices are rated at around 0.5W to trickle charge and 10W to fast charge.

Our seebeck unit is rated to generate 6 Watts so its more than enough to charge an iPod.

So how do we do this? Well we need a heat source and a cooling source. We can easily attach this to a car or a motorcycle since the exhaust easily goes over 200F and the wind over the element would cool it.

Phones and MP3 players have internal charging circuits. If you supply the right voltage and enough current it will start charging. Most phones and iPods need 5 volts so we decided to use a 5V regulator. The regulator will make sure the voltage never gets too high.

If we use a seebeck unit with an efficient regulation circuit we could charge an iPod at the same rate as an outlet charger. We could even charge batteries or a super capacitor and use it as a battery booster when the iPod dies.

We had designed a boost charging circuit but it is not quite ready for prime time. Sorry :-( For now, we will show you how to use a 5V linear regulator instead. Its not as efficient but it works.

It was the G1-1.4-219-1.14 $75 from tellurex.

Step 3: Parts List (5V Regulator)

Picture of Parts List (5V Regulator)

Here are the parts we used.

Heat sink - Radioshack or from an old computer.

Thermal Paste - We got ours from Its not the best, but it was cheap and offered free shipping. A higher grade thermal paste would have improved it.

5V Regulator, LM7805 - This can also be purchased from Radioshack, as you can see, our's was.

0.33uF Capacitor - Radioshack or your favorite electronics store. (optional...ish)

0.1uF Capacitor - Radioshack or your favorite electronics store. (optional...ish)

USB female plug - We used a USB plug salvaged from a motherboard, but you can use anything that fits the device you would like to charge. Its actually easier to cut up a USB extension cord that has the USB receptacle plug.

Seebeck unit -

Step 4: Build It

Picture of Build It
Here's an animation of how easy it was to prototype a simple 5V regulator with a USB port at the output, allowing you to charge an iPhone, iPod or anything else that has similar power requirements.

This would not work with a single seebeck unit because this kind of regulator needs more than 5Vs and is very inefficient. Two seebeck units connected in series would be enough to satisfy its input voltage.

A lot of people also seem to have an issue with trying to fool an iPod touch to think it is connected to a computer. We built a break out board and tied D- to 5V directly and D+ with a 10K to GND. It worked on our's, the iPod's USB state machine is fooled and we have been charging it this way for a while.

Here are some other iPod chargers people have made.

We are working on a boost circuit that will allow you to charge an iPod with just one seebeck unit, but it won't be ready before this contest is over.

Step 5: Implementations

Picture of Implementations

A seebeck mounted on a motorcycle. In this case, the heat sink is much larger than it needs to be. Three seebeck units can actually be mounted under that heat sink.

Since exhaust pipes are generally round and seebeck elements are rigid, it would be a good idea to attach them to the largest diameter part of the exhaust pipe and use smaller seebeck units. This would provide a greater surface area and result in higher efficiency. Hose clamps secure it to the pipe.

Another area we can attach these would be heaters or a fireplace in a house. These get pretty hot in the winter while the air temp would be cold enough to generate power. A very large super capacitor with an efficient boost regulator can be charged to store energy for a quick boost to your phone or mp3 player when needed.

Air conditioners
In the summer the seebeck unit could be placed in the central air conditioner heat exhaust. Air conditioners actually expel heat as well, that's why they need something on the outside. Perhaps someone could install this into the central air conditioner to power a LED porch light in the summer. The circuitry would be similar to a solar charger.

Exhaust vents from your stove
Just an idea, we never looked into this one.

Charging Super Capacitors or batteries
If you connect this up to a super capacitor or batteries you could collect the power you generate and bring it with you.

Joule Thief
Kryptonite recommended we attach this to a Joule Thief. With it we were able to power an LED easily. The boost circuit we designed on Page 7 can do it just as well, but the Joule Thief circuit is nearly free since you can make it from spare parts. The temperature difference required was so low we could put a piece of ice on one side and our hand on the other to generate enough power to light a white LED (60F difference). It gets cold though, so body heat can't power it indefinitely. You can instead leave the hot side down on a radiator and its a free night light whenever the heat is on.

Step 6: Other Ideas (Fire Powered Lego Car)

Picture of Other Ideas (Fire Powered Lego Car)
Just for fun, we built a car out of Lego bricks that is powered with a candle.

This car is a dangerous fire hazard. Ours can even go faster but common sense told us, "Hmmm....a rolling ball of fire might be dangerous and Lego Bricks don't mix well with fire."

Good thing we didn't listen.

Check it out

Step 7: Schematics, Power Specs, Other Things for Designers

Picture of Schematics, Power Specs, Other Things for Designers

Graphs, pretty pictures and schematics are here for designers who want to improve our idea.

I included a schematic of the first boost converter design MAX856. It was good for a LED flashlight or charging a super cap but not powerful enough to charge an iPod.

I am not going to specify the parts we used since we don't plan to continue using it.

We are looking towards using the MAX1522-MAX1524 from Maxim IC but it will take time to source new parts and we don't want to give out an untested schematic. Any recommendations for a good efficiency boost with a 0.8V to 5V input range? Needs to be over 85% efficient for a 500mA output.

Step 8: Frequently Asked Questions

We've been asked these before so we decided to answer them for you ahead of time.

1. Is a seebeck the same as a peltier unit?

Almost. You can use any thermoelectric in either way but a peltier is optomized to cool while a seebeck is optomized to generate power. A peltier could be used to generate power but as our video shows its not as efficient as a seebeck is. It took around 700F Delta to generate 5V with a peltier, the seebeck only required 200F. You can buy peltiers on Ebay for a lot cheaper than a seebeck. To get the same power you will have to use more peltiers so it would mean you would need more heat and more cooling. that may defeat some of your efficiency. Plus at 700F the wires tended to melt off for us.

2. How would you improve the design and draw more power?

Well just like batteries or solar panels you can stack more in parallel to draw more current, or more in series to get more voltage. If manufacturers could make these in flexible strips we could wrap them around pipes like the engine exhaust and that could generate some serious power. See the extras page for more info on this.

3. How is a blowtorch green?

It isn't, that is why we recommend using a wasted heat source that would otherwise be vented into the environment.

4. Do you need a heat sink?

Not always, but it will work better. They won't generate the full power if you don't heat sink the other side.

5. Are you really planning to make a store out of the laser cutter?

Yes we are, we were planning to launch on July 20th as a blog, but since our main idea fit this Instructables contest we decided to jump start and rush to finish it to make the deadline.

6. Why does your current boost circuit not work for iPods?

We built that boost circuit for a super cap powered LED flashlight. Its only designed for 100mA. It will allow a charged super cap to output 5V steadily from 5V to 1.8V input. Since I-pods and phones need more current our current boost circuit wont charge them. We do plan to improve it.

7. When will you be providing the circuit board design?

Hopefully by July 20th our full blog will be up and we will have perfected a boost circuit.

8. Will a Minty boost work with the thermoelectric element?

Maybe. We don't own one. Perhaps we can collaborate.

9. OMG these seebecks are expensive.

Yes they are, but over time they compensate for the initial cost of the purchase. Not to mention, the prices should drop dramatically when large manufacturers see the benefit and start creating them in larger quantities.

10. Why do you use a regulator?

The voltage is very unstable and varies with changes in the temperature, without regulation the element could go way beyond what you want and possibly damage your device.

11. Can it charge a super cap?

Yes it can, and with a efficient boost regulator it could power almost anything you could think of.

12. Are you going to sell kits?

Maybe if enough people request it we can order parts in bulk and kit it out.

13. Will the $15 350W Peltier from Ebay work? It seems bigger than the 6W you use.

Well it will... kinda... but not as well as a seebeck one would. They use different metals to make them. Also the 350W number is how much energy it consumes to cool, not how much power it can generate.

14. I don't know how to solder or do any of this, but I still want to try it out. Where should I start?

It's not the easiest thing to do, but start off by browsing Instructables. They have plenty of How-tos that will build you up to the expertise you need to try this one.

Step 9: Extras

Picture of Extras
Here's a video showing a seebeck unit powering a video player using heat from a catalytic converter.

This video talks about an idea that is very similar to what we have discussed in previous steps. We think this is great, but we think we can do better.

Catalytic converters are already pretty efficient. They need to warm up in order to operate at full efficiency. If we attached seebeck units it may draw away heat needed to warm it up. So lets just let them do what they do best (reduce toxicity of emissions).

Our idea is to attach seebeck units to the exhaust manifold. By placing the seebeck units on the manifold we get the hottest exhaust region. More heat differential means more electric power generation. Also being inside the car would protect it from the elements.

With future improvements, we would like to have seebeck units in a flexible strip. They could be wrapped around exhaust pipes and then perhaps the technology could replace the alternator entirely, even free up some HP for the engine.

It's too soon to tell without some more testing.

Note: Although these units are very rugged, they are unfortunately not bullet proof. We recommend making sure the cold side is cooled for best results in efficiency and protection of the units under extreme conditions.

Step 10: Reader Suggestions: Joule Thief

Picture of Reader Suggestions: Joule Thief
Kryptonite asked us to see if we could implement a Joule thief with the thermoelectric generator.

A Joule thief is a transformer feedback single transistor inverter. We found some details via hackaday on this site. Apparently it is a circuit a lot of people are using to drain the last remaining volts out of a battery. The one we built worked down to about 0.30V.

Here we have it using the waste heat from our toaster oven to turn on a LED

We even tried to use the circuit with our body heat and ice for the cooling side. It worked but it sure made us feel cold 'cause it drew our body heat away. Yikes!

Step 11: WALL-E

Picture of WALL-E

A lot of people have commented that these Seebeck units are too expensive to charge a cell phone. The heat sink and other parts are hard to build and source. It's true; until a better manufacturing process is produced these seebeck units will be that expensive. Hopefully GM or BMW, which have already taken interest into these ideas, will come out with some breakthroughs. Until then to make this a project that people can actually build at home with common low cost and easy to find parts, we decided to add this WALL-E section where you can use peltier coolers and an altoids tin as a heatsink to create your own WALL-E that is powered by thermoelectricity.

Step 12: Practice With a Paper WALL-E

Picture of Practice With a Paper WALL-E

First things first. Credit is to due to They designed this cute paper WALL-E that you can print and make at home. We tried to contact the web admin but the page didn't load. We based our WALL-E on the templates they made. First we built the paper model to get an idea of what the Metal Steampunk WALL-E would be like.

Step 13: Download the Paper WALL-E and Double It in Size.

Picture of Download the Paper WALL-E and Double It in Size.

We used the WALL-E.pdf from their site and made it 2x bigger in MS Paint. We printed it in B&W; because we had no intention of using the original colors. Plus, we are making it out of metal. We can't offer you the enlarged file because has a copyright on their design and we would not want to infringe on it.

We found a roll of sheet metal left over from when my roof was repaired. It's dirty, it's rough, it's so perfect for WALL-E. After we printed the pieces we cut them to fit the sheet metal, making sure all the bend locations were the same. We used very little of the spray-on glue since we needed to peel the paper off later on. We tried to tape but it wouldn't stay.

Step 14: Cut It Out

Picture of Cut It Out

You have a choice of three main tools. A shear, scissor, nibbler, or band saw. Of course a band saw is the best but its the most wasteful, although with a band saw you get the whole job done in 20 minutes where with the other tools it will take much longer. The nibbler is a $25 hand tool from and it's a punch tool that will nibble at the metal to cut it. If the sheet metal is thin enough a scissor will be enough to cut it, otherwise you can try a shear. You may notice that we did not mention a Dremel. Dremels create a lot of sparks and honestly are awesome but we want to keep this project safe and green.

Now when you cut the pieces out you will need to use gloves and goggles. The edges will be very sharp.

Note: we removed the front chest piece for WALL E and the inner side of the treads. We needed this space so it was sacrificed. If we were to do it again we probably would have removed the back piece. Originally we wanted the front door to open but the altoids tin proved to be too large.

Step 15: [bend It / JB Weld It]

Picture of [bend It / JB Weld It]

This part is much harder when you use metal instead of paper. We clamped the pieces between two straight edges and bent it that way. Doing it by hand warps the metal so use something to clamp one side.

You should be able to use your experience from the paper model to know which parts to bend.

We used JB weld and a lot of clamps to attach everything together. JB weld is a type of Epoxy adhesive. Its $5 at Home Depot and can handle the high temperatures we are working with. It takes about 24 hours to fully cure so you need to be patient. We also used it as a filler in some locations since the model has gaps on the treads.

Step 16: Paint It

We didn't have the correct WALL-E colors but we had some gold spray paint so we decided to give it the steam punk look.

Step 17: Build the Chassis

Picture of Build the Chassis

First start off with the bottom base, then build it all the way to the top. For this piece we used some left over 12 Gauge electrical wire to form a fork to hold the peltier unit. The details are in the photos.

Step 18: See If It All Fits.

Picture of See If It All Fits.

We have to size the parts and cut openings for the wheel to spin and the axel to go through. Those two white beams support the tank tread. The tread doesnt actually touch the ground, since that would produce drag.

Step 19: Cut a Lego Wire

Picture of Cut a Lego Wire

Cut a small lego wire in half and strip the ends. Be careful, Lego wires are amazingly annoying to cut and strip. We used a scissor to split the wire and a wire stripper to remove the insulation.

Step 20: Assemble Thermogenerator

Picture of Assemble Thermogenerator

We needed a minimal of 3 volts to power the microcontroller and decided to used two peltiers units instead of one. If you plan to skip that and just have one peltier you can, but it would be harder to reach 3 volts (remember, peltier units are not as good at generating electricity as seebeck units are).

A easy way to make a heatsink is to use the top cover of an altoids tin. We attached our cover to the peltier with mini binder clips. We added some thermal grease between the cover and the peltier. To make sure the cold side is cool enough we put 1 ice cube on top of the cover. The ice cube melts so don't put more than one; the tin can't hold that much water and it will spill when the ice melts.
The two Peltiers are attached in series.
(make sure the hot side is facing down)

Step 21: Assembling the Microcontroller (optional)

Picture of Assembling the Microcontroller (optional)

This part is kind of difficult without some experience with microcontrollers. You can skip it and wire the peltier directly to the motors and the device will work.

If you are daring enough to consider programming it here are some useful references. We seriously recommend prototyping the system on a breadboard before you solder it. Different peltiers generate different voltages.
We used the Pic kit 2 and programmed it in the development board then pulled the PIC out and placed it into the WALL-E.

We won't be going into the details because its big enough to be an instructable of its own. In fact it is! You can search for how to program PIC micros.

Our WALL-E PCB has two 2n3904 transistors that drive the two motors. We have 100 Ohms resistors connected to the base of each transistors. Two output pins of the PIC turn the transistors on and off. This allows wall E to spin or go forward. To get WALL-E to drive backwards would require a full H-bridge.

Step 22: Assemble It All

Picture of Assemble It All

So now we attach all the pieces we need. Draw the details in, like his eyes and we are set!

Step 23: Make a Candle

Picture of Make a Candle

A regular tea candle will not heat up the peltier enough. We created our own candle that had two large wicks. Making candles is fun and easy.

If you see that your WALL-E is struggling to move you can try adding more then two wicks. Be careful, the Lego Bricks could melt or the wires could come off if you make the candle burn too hot.

Make sure your prototype works initially. We used a stove to test because it was reliable and consistent. We only did that test twice to measure the power. Once you get an idea if it works you can stick to just using a more efficient standard power supply to power it.

Step 24: Get Up and Go!

Picture of Get Up and Go!

Step 25: Thanks for Voting for Us!

Picture of Thanks for Voting for Us!

We got the prizes today. Still waiting for the Ponoko gift card. Wonder what we will use it for. Any ideas?


Bjarke (author)2017-04-14

Hey, cool 'ible. I see that you're using a max 175 C Seebeck on a ~260 C exhaust manifold. How come it does not get burned?

dmuthukrishnan (author)2011-11-21

what is the liquid used under the peltier?

Yonatan24 (author)dmuthukrishnan2015-12-14

Thermal paste

allsparkunleashed (author)2012-11-18

can u please give more information about the thermal unit..

1. Generates electricity

2. Very cheap on eBay

That's all

pintail120 (author)2015-03-17

Dump the linear regulator - very inefficient !

get a "Bucks converter" from ebay, cheap and in excess of 90% efficient

Yonatan24 (author)pintail1202015-12-14

But then the voltage will be too high, They automatically adjust and higher the voltage if you higher the V-in

Yonatan24 (author)2015-12-14

You bought 1 7805 for $2? You can buy 10 on eBay for like $1

Yonatan24 (author)2015-12-14

Is there a maximum amount of eat a Peltier can handle before burning?

shafiq_lon (author)2015-09-10

do u make any schematic drawing to light up bulb in vehicle using heat waste from exhaust?want to refer for my final year project.

billybobjhonson (author)2010-04-22

 we just need to get really efficient with these and attach a heat sink to the engine block and exhaust system so that we do not have a need for the alternator and we can just run the electrics in our car from that

icem3 (author)billybobjhonson2015-08-02

You already have a heatsink in your car. Its called the radiator

I have been working on the same idea for my computer. I believe that I have finally made a generator efficient enough.
It only cost $7.50 to build.

It can generate power from a temperature gradient of 5 degrees celsius or greater and can withstand up to 300 degrees.

Please vote for our entry in the instructables contests!

Have a great day!

BloomWorld (author)2015-07-03

There can be multiple reasons for the phone to heat up.

Battery: If the battery is not working fine then the phone may get heated

Charging port: If the heat is at the charging port then there may be chances that the charger is at fault.

Too much of downloads: If you are used to continuously download something or the other then there are chances of the phone been heated due to excess load on processor

No rest even at the time of charging: love to stay connected and not letting the phone charged then you are harming the life of the battery.

Loads of apps and widgets that run round the clock- more pressure on phone: uninstall unnecessary load from the phone to avoid excess use of battery and processor

Low air flow: keeping the phone in pocket where the airflow is less can also be the reson for phone heat up

Phone exposed to moisture: long calls and continuous contact between hand and ear creates sweat on the screen and over exposure to moisture can also be the reason for hardware fault and thus heating up

robcull (author)2010-09-27

say you had some warm water that you wanted to cool.
couldn't you set up a seebeck to generate electricity from the thermal energy in the water, effectively cooling the water?
I mean, I'd like be able to convert some excess heat energy into electrical energy, just to get rid of it.

Just4Fun Media (author)robcull2015-04-01

I have been working on the same idea for my computer. I believe that I have finally made a generator efficient enough.
It only cost $7.50 to build.

It can generate power from a temperature gradient of 5 degrees celsius or greater and can withstand up to 300 degrees.

Please vote for our entry in the instructables contests!

Have a great day!

molusco (author)2009-06-28

I have a router at home wich produces loads of heat (enough to run a Stirling engine i bought). I've always wanted to do something to refrigerate it. Maybe this is a good solution to get "free" energy and cool it down. Do you think it will work?

Just4Fun Media (author)molusco2015-04-01

I have been working on the same idea for my computer. I believe that I have finally made a generator efficient enough.
It only cost $7.50 to build.

It can generate power from a temperature gradient of 5 degrees celsius or greater and can withstand up to 300 degrees.

Please vote for our entry in the instructables contests!

Have a great day!

splitreaction (author)molusco2009-06-29

Well ya won't get free energy. if you hook one of these up. Hot side to the router, cool side to a heat sink, you could generate some electricity, probably only enough to charge a small battery. Probably not enough to power another peltier cool. However if you build the joule thief from step 10 perhaps you can make it power a LED. I mean hey, it would help cool your router and perhaps add light. But man that must be a hot router.

J-Ri (author)splitreaction2012-11-27

I think he means free in the sense that he is already paying to generate the unwanted heat.

Unfortunately, you cannot cool the router and generate heat from it at the same time. If you use the power generated by the heat coming from the router to cool the router, you no longer have heat coming from the router to generate the electricity to cool the router.

For a TE module to produce voltage, there must be a temperature difference from one side to the other. This means you have two options; lower the ambient temperature or accept the increase in temperature inside the router.

Additionally, I would be EXTREMELY hesitant to use such a device to salvage energy from any electronic, and some electrical, devices. Doing so will keep more heat inside the device than what was intended, ultimately shortening the life of the device and negating any small gains.

haniffwahab (author)2013-03-27

i want to ask, i have try the project, but my thermogenerator have produce only 0.5v , could u give some advice how to make thermogenerator produce 3v and how about temperature and temperature ambiance?

A friend and I built this very efficient Thermoelectric Generator for $7.50.
It can generate power from a temperature gradient of 5 degrees celsius or greater and can withstand up to 300 degrees celsius before shutting down.

We consistently get 4.8v and 2.3A from a reality candle or exhaust pipe.

Please vote for our entry in the instructables contests!

Have a great day!

lovethonuigbo (author)2013-04-19

this is is what we call
Onuigbo Loveth

lovethonuigbo (author)2013-04-19

please sir,detail me more on this
onuigbo loveth

criggie (author)2013-03-31

Please consider designing something to scavenge heat from a car exhaust and do something useful with it.... top up the starting battery, power the accessory circuit, etc.

Bold Rhino (author)2013-01-18

What kind of motor did you use? How did you build it?

J-Ri (author)2012-11-27

I think a cheaper and easier way would be to weld a flat plate to the exhaust manifold rather than use flexible TE strips. Not possible for the amateur on cast iron manifolds (which most are), but pretty easy on that steel pipe on your Mazda.

Additionally, your first thought of using the catalytic converter would be more effective (aside from possible water/dirt intrusion, but you will get some under the hood too), while not affecting the operation of it. TE modules don't cool their heat source significantly, especially when we're talking about taking a few watts out of the exhaust of something that generates kilowatts of waste heat. Heating of the cat prior to "lightoff" is the only concern. Once it reaches that temp, it gets considerably hotter. Driving down the road in a downpour doesn't cool the cat enough to lower its efficiency, even if the case is cooled to below 212ºF. Many cats have a fiber glass-like (dunno what it is) layer around the honeycomb to insulate it.

spartans (author)2010-01-17

 hey this project is really good and i want to try it once.
hey why are these capacitors used for?

J-Ri (author)spartans2012-11-27

They are used to smooth the voltage on both sides of the regulator, and aren't really "optional-ish", you WILL get spikes over the rated voltage without them. How much over depends on a few factors, but they are cheap and you can find them anywhere, so use them.

youwho (author)2012-06-28

I am wondering which peltier chip was used in this experiment. The output of the ones I have tried are very weak.

I am trying generate about 5v 3000 mA to charge a cell phone. Any suggestions on a specific peltier chip & heat sink?


colouredplayground (author)2011-07-30

hi i'm currently working on a project designing a portable heating lunch box that i plan to make it work on waste heat but i don't know how. any suggestions on how to power up the lunch box using waste heat?

avanner77 (author)2011-01-24

In her Mintyboost, Ladyada uses the LT1302 to power any USB device. After looking at the efficiency graphs, it appears to be almost 85% efficiency at 500ma. Hope this helps.

jeronimowagner (author)2011-01-14


Have you thought about using it to generate hydrogen and oxygen and use in hybrid vehicle?

likewho (author)2010-09-22

I’ve tried standard peltier modules for power generation with limited success and very short service life. They cannot hold up to the higher temperatures necessary for good power generation performance. I found a terrific supplier with both standard temperature and high temperature TEG modules designed specifically for power generation. They sell a lot of devices on eBay and you can also buy from them direct. The company is Thermal Enterprises and here is are links to a couple of their eBay items.

geekchic (author)2010-04-15

Could I use a thermogenerator that's out of a propane mosquito magnet?

kdunner (author)2009-04-20

So not to rain on any parades, but this idea has been utilized for the better part of a decade. Do a google search for "heat powered fans" and see just how common this idea is. Plus, waste heat to charge your cellphones is one thing, but I hardly consider high temperature differences (eg blowtorch) 'waste' heat. Nice production, just I find it hard to believe slashdot thought it warrent of our attention.

splitreaction (author)kdunner2009-04-20

Sorry kdunner. Beserk87 was right. Just give us a chance and read the instructable you will find its not as bad as you think. I'm removing my comment in apology.

kdunner (author)splitreaction2009-04-24

I would like to extend an olive branch, in the heat of the competition I disregarded your instructable; I felt jaded that slashdot decided to post your entry on practically the day of the voting. I hate it when people post negative things, and so I would like to apologize for not seeing the potential in your design. I would like to tell you of the potential I do see. I can see a potential marriage of our two concepts resulting in a very cool invention. My entry into the challenge is the wind power composter. The internal temperature of compost gets to 100-160 degrees F. I can imagine that if the base structure had ground penetrating prongs or just heat sinks, then a thermal momentum could be established between the composter and the ground temperature, resulting in the production of a low power source using peltier junctions. This power could turn the composter on its own. My composter uses a gear motor with a ratio of 1255:1 so a tape deck motor could potentially power the composter. I have a few peltier junctions lying around but won't have time to test the output voltage until finals are over (I really don't have time to make this post). What voltage and amperage do you think a 100-160F to 70F condition would create? If it is produces enough power, then the composter could be turned by bacteria alone, and the wind would not be needed at all. That would be a cool idea to try, after finals that is.... Again, sorry for being a troll, I want instructables to be a place of invention, creation and open ideas, and I will not let competition and self interest get in the way.

splitreaction (author)kdunner2009-04-24

My team and I were angry but not anymore. We got a lot of good comments and idea from people. A lot of members even gave us ideas. Like Kyrptonite who wanted us to try a Joule thief. We did it and it was fun. It sounds like you have a temperature delta of around 70F. This technology isn't efficient if you are burning fuel to generate the heat, but collecting waste heat is great. Even at 1% eff you are still collecting energy you otherwise would not have. I doubt the peltier junctions will be enough to generate enough power from a 70F delta. Most of the ones we see other people using don't generate that much power. They really vary depending on who makes them cause peltiers and seebecks use different metals. The peltiers we bought from PC coolers produced maybe a volt at best perhaps 6 mA(50F delta 32F (ice water) 88F human hand). That is why we purchased high end seebeck units. They are much smaller and you can tell because they are usually not sealed in ceramic. Ours generates about 5V open circuit at the same temperature where the peltier generates a weak 2V open circuit. Seebecks we bought cost around 35-80 dollars. I wonder if you could build a solar collector for your setup instead. Imagine building a parabolic mirror to reflect sunlight into a solar oven. Then placing your peltiers against the oven with some decent metal to passively cool it. you could probably even combine it with some photovoltaic cells if you have them too . You can use that to trickle charge a SLA (sealed lead acid battery). Perhaps then the stored up energy could rotate the barrel a couple of times a day. Just not the entire day. 1255:1 is an amazing gear ratio btw.

Insidio (author)splitreaction2010-03-13

Hey guys, please send something that tells me how to assemble the microcontroller and how to connect it. Please is everything I need, I know about programming, but no how to connect the pic to the motors and peltier units. Please is for my science fair project. I would be very thankful.

no , they used a blow torch as a source of heat, for experimentation purpurses.

Arshad115 (author)2010-02-21

 this is one big instructable!...brilliant!..

Insidio (author)2010-02-15

Hi friends, I think I need some help. There's gonna be some cience fair in my school and I'm going to make this Wall-E for the fair. But the problem is that I don't have any legos and those wheels and lego motors. I bought some 9 volt motors, the Peltier units, and almost everything except for the pic.
So my questions are: Can I make a Wall-E with those motors or maybe using some wheels from a remote control car?Actually I have some old Tyco RC Air Rebound, I know I have to change some things in the design, there's no problem with that. And can I use a PIC16F84 instead of the Pic Kit2?
If I can use the electric car wheels and the PIC16F84 please give me some idea of how can I do it. If I can't I think I'll have to buy the Pic Kit2.
Thanks for your attention: Hugo

nachos (author)2009-12-18

 if someone one could tell me if this item would work i'd really appreciate it because i need to order it soon.


nachos (author)nachos2010-01-02

 Would The $75 dollar one on the site you recommended work as well as the one you used? the one you said you used is not there anymore.

I'd really appreciate a reply asap because I  need to order it soon.


scraptopower (author)2010-01-02

Nice, I built on too, you can see it here. It's difficult to keep the cool side cool though!

nachos (author)2009-12-09

 will this one work?    
its a peltier

Thanx in advance

roflmaourface (author)2009-08-07

i would like to get my hands on a few of each of these for future experiments etc. Does anyone know where i can find them? Awesome but incase my question is wrong are seebeck and peltier units different products or the same product used differently if so i apologise and this question should be correct. Does anyone know where i can get my hands on some thermoelectric units like the ones in the video?


Foaly7 (author)2009-09-23

So, say you have an electric motorcycle, and the battery heats up from prolonged use. Could you use this to charge the battery, recycling the heat coming from the battery?

About This Instructable




Bio: Split Reaction, now known as Cunning Turtle, is a group of DIYers, artists, writers, engineers and photographers based in the NY state region.
More by splitreaction:Ultimate Homemade Photo BoothCharge Your Cellphone Using Wasted Heat (and Build a Steampunk Wall-E)
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