Instructables

Make a Thermopile from some Copper wire and Paper Clips

For those who don't know, a thermopile is simply a bunch of thermocouples connected in series, which allows them to generate more voltage than a single thermocouple ever could.

Simple enough right.
Good.

So what is a Thermocouple?

A thermocouple is a device that produces a small voltage when there is a temperature difference between a pair of conductors. Make a bunch in series and you have a thermocouple.

I am going to show you how to make a thermopile out of about a foot of copper wire and four paper clips. I want you all to know that this will not generate very much electricity. It is not some miracle cure to the worlds energy crisis. It is not much more really than an interesting experiment for people who like this sort of thing.

I can't think of many practical uses for this particular design, you could use it a some sort of measuring device perhaps. Maybe in conjunction with an Arduino, you could perform some sort of output based on a candle flickering....an LED that will light if the candle burns out (and the voltage being generated by the thermopile drops)?

You would have to design something much more stable and made up of many many more thermocouples to generate any usable amount of power.
 
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Step 1: Gather Stuff

All you will need for this experiment
  • some solid core copper wire
  • four paper clips (perhaps more depending on the length of your paperclips when straightened)
  • a small tea-light candle
  • a glass receptacle ( to hold the candle)
  • some play-doh or similar

Tools that you will need or that will help
  • soldering iron
  • a muti-meter
  • wire cutters
  • needle nose pliers (for straightening out your paperclips)
  • a third hand vise
Go and stick your glass receptacle into the freezer straight away, we will want it to be cold, so we might as well get that under way.
Hi. Were those really paper clips? I mean, we've been searching for iron wires to be pared with the copper wires for a long time yet paper clips can be used. I mean, that's great!
spylock1 year ago
Thank you,this gives me a couple good ideas of things to try,Good job.
lsf2 years ago
http://www.neazoi.com/technology/thermocouple.htm
This is a great article.I really like this article.I got much knowledge.This was a great visit for me.Thank you for it.
wire clips
This is awesome! I've been trying to recreate a Eco-Fan for our wood stove(Who am I fooling? It's a gas stove!)
fjordcarver (author)  joespicnictables2 years ago
Cool, I hope this helps. (I had to look up the Eco-Fan, neat product)
I wonder if you were to use a joule thief and wire that in with the thermopile!  

P.S: Should have posted a link to the Eco-Fan! :) Cheers!
Robot Lover2 years ago
Pretty cool! I just read about thermocouples and thermopiles in one of Forrest Mims' books. Coincidence?
fjordcarver (author)  Robot Lover2 years ago
Forrest Mims books should be re-released! They are great, and I got the idea from reading through his notebooks as well. ;)
They have been! But the price is not original! My dad bought most of them back in the 80s and 90s and the price tag says $1.50 but now they are selling them for 15 bucks each!