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Thermoelectric Fan Powered by a Candle

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video Thermoelectric Fan Powered by a Candle
A Thermoelectric generator powered by a tealight. It started as an experiment of how much power I could get from one candle. But I liked the idea and it worked really well so I built this electric-mechanical ornament. I did not use a high temperature TEG-module, but instead a cheap TEC-module. That can still handle 200 degrees Celsius which is good enough.

Please see my other project with a more powerful TEG:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Battery-Charger-Powered-by-Fire/

Concept:
It is also called a peltier element and when you use it as a generator it's called seebeck effect. You have one hot side and one cold. The module generates power to drive a motor and the motor fan/air flow will cool the upper heat sink. Higher temperature difference => increased output power  => increased motor RPM => increased air flow => increased temperature difference and so on. The airflow will spread the heat into your room, which is the purpose of this construction.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoelectric_effect

If you unmounts the basement you could also use it as a stove-fan or move air from other heat sources. The motor start to turn at about 15 degrees difference, which to my surprise worked when I just went outdoors with it and the upper heat sink got cooler than the basement. You can place it in hot water, on an ice cube, a pizza and it works just as fine.

Total cost was about 50€ (incl. shipping costs). I used some spare parts but I bought most of it.

Components used:
• CPU-cooler (cold side): Zalman CNPS5X (Base plate: 33x33mm)
• CPU-cooler (hot side): From an old PC (WxLxH=78x63x67mm)
• TEC-module: TEC1-07110T200 (30x30x3.3mm)
• DC Motor: 1,5-3V
• USB-fan (metal, only needed the fan)
• Thermal paste: Arctic MX-4
• A piece of wood
• Two pull springs
• Four M4 bolts and two M3 bolts
• Aluminum tubes (optional)

TEC specification (at ΔT=68C):
Vmax: 8.5
Imax: 10
Qmax: 52.7
Tmax: 200 degrees Celsius
Source: http://www.termo-gen.com

Construction:
First of all, it does not need to be exactly those components. Other heat sinks, TEC/TEG, motor, fan, thermal paste, bolts and base plate can be used. Main concept rules are:
  • A TEC or TEG module (smaller dimension than upper heat sink base plate). Specifications are not that important but make sure it can handle high temperature. Many modules are only 100 degrees C and then you need to modify the construction as it gets warmer than that.
  • One hot side that is not hotter than TEC max-temp (My candle flame never touches the surface)
  • One cold side, an efficient heat sink (heat pipes) are a good choice
  • Good thermal paste to maximize temperature difference
  • Low voltage motor, around 1V. I prefer it to be quite (low dB)
  • Fan with high air flow at low RPM
  • Base plate that adds stability, holder for light, isolate heat
  •  
The lower heat sink (hot side) was cut and polished to get it nice looking. I kept 5mm of the fins to absorb the heat well when the light flame burns and increases distance to the surface. New dimensions are 78x63x15mm. 4 holes are drilled through the heat sink and threaded as M4. 4 bolts will hold the lower heat sink on top of a wooden platform. Bolts go through the platform from below, covered with aluminum pipes for a better looking design and are screwed into the heat sink. The distance between wood and heat sink is 35mm but I would make it 40-45mm as the flame almost touches the surface. You don´t want that because it creates black soot. The lower heat sink gets really warm but at the same time it works as a cooler to not get TOO warm, that would melt the TEG-module.

Two springs attached to M3 bolts fixate the upper heat sink on the lower, with TEC-module and thermal paste in between. Both surfaces of the TEC are covered with a thin smooth layer of thermal paste. The springs adds pressure as well as isolate the heat to travel to the cold side. The upper heat sink could also be screwed into the lower heat sink but then you need isolated screws.

The TEC is directly attached/soldered to the motor and the motor is attached to the upper heat sink by another small piece of metal and a cable tie. The fan is attached to the motor with a small belt wheel and glue.

Result:
I think the hot aluminum part get to about 100-150 Celsius, I measured the temp with a grill thermometer covered in thermal paste but can´t tell how accurate it was. I measured 0.4V and 0.25A with one candle and 0.67V and 0.54A with two. That results in 0.1W resp. 0.36W output power. The efficiency to produce electricity this way is not that impressive though. A candle produce about 25 Watts, that means 0.7% efficiency.. But who cares, everything this machine does will eventually end up in heat any way =) That is a bit interesting, you increase the room-heating speed (I think) but looses nothing..

It is a bit noisy to have running all the time. To find the optimal motor/fan => airflow/noise level will require some more experimenting.

Mod Proposals:
  • Skip the base platform and bolts and use it as a stove-fan.
  • Use two/four TECs side-by-side to multiply output power. Add a 5-10mm thick copper plate that covers all modules and then place the CPU-cooler on top of that.
  • Use a brushless DC motor and a suitable fan to make it noiseless.
  • Build in a slow motor beneath the platform to make the whole thing spin 360 degrees.
  • Put wheels on the platform.
Edit:
I have changed the motor to a "Tamiya 76005 Solar Motor 02 (Mabuchi RF-500TB)". Got it on Ebay. It´s incredibly strong at low RPM and I give it only 0.5V. A very good motor, but best of all, it´s quiet! I cannot hear it at 2m distance at full speed. It also gives stronger air flow. Now I can run it all time =)


Donations:
High effect thermoelectric modules are expensive. If you would like to see more of those experiments in the future, please consider a small donation.
Bitcoin address: 1BouwowuprgQrtUYgyzYnNvHyRYbLceqHg

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Joohansson (author) 1 year ago
Some more images.
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this is real wondful......where to buy this module? Except the TEC(we have in manufacture), i need the sink and fan, i also wanna try !

Joohansson (author) 8 months ago

Together with my other instructable and with the new fan.

DSC00318.jpg

Dear Joohannson, first of all great job!!!

I'm about to build a similar version of your model but i wanted to connect multiple fans (i recently got a considerably powerful TEG - 21W, 7.2v) to the power source.
I'm studying fine arts so my basic knowledge of wiring and electronics is almost non-existent, thus please excuse the dumbness of my questions!

- You mention the use of a DC motor: could i, for example, avoid it and connect the pc fans' cables directly to the TEG? If yes, what about the yellow (ground?) cable?

- Should i wire them in parallel or serial?

thanks in advance!

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RKS41 month ago
Hello sir
I want to buy this project Can you tell how i can buy & where i contact for this project . send me please information at rkpandit@engineer.com
Thank you
Er.HarjotM1 month ago

how can i collect the project report ? plz send me

brother did u gt those report?

may i gt the report of this project really interesting pls asap...(thinesh.muniandy@gmail.com)

Sir can I use HSF,Zalman CNPS 80 instead of zalman cnps5x, pls reply as soon as possible

-thanks a lot

pls send your information on this account daniel.cortez76@yahoo.com thank you very much

Hey can i use this kind of TEC:

Product Name : TEC1-12706 Thermoelectric CoolerPeltierCooler
Dimensions : 40 X40 X 3.4 mm
Color : White Couples : 127
Vmax : 15.2 V
Imax : 12 A
Max power consumption : 180 Watts (Max)
Tmax : 70 degree celcius
Resistance : 1.3-1.5 ohms
Item Net Weight: 300g

Pls reply immedietly, i really need to make one for project.BTW can I have your yahoomail or facebook accaount so I can contact you much easier.

tnx

Hey can i use this kind of TEC:

Product Name : TEC1-12706 Thermoelectric CoolerPeltierCooler
Dimensions : 40 X40 X 3.4 mm
Color : White Couples : 127
Vmax : 15.2 V
Imax : 12 A
Max power consumption : 180 Watts (Max)
Tmax : 70 degree celcius
Resistance : 1.3-1.5 ohms
Item Net Weight: 300g

Pls reply immedietly, i really need to make one for project.BTW can I have your yahoomail or facebook accaount so I can contact you much easier.

tnx

How many TEC do I need?

Where can I buy TEC-module and how much can it cost? pls reply, I really have to make one of these immediately

tnx:)

Where can I buy TEC-module and how much can it cost? pls reply, I really have to make one of these immediately

tnx:)

Where can I buy TEC-module and how much can it cost? pls reply, I really have to make one of these immediately

tnx:)

Er.HarjotM1 month ago

how can i collect the project report ? plz send me

Er.HarjotM1 month ago

how can i collect the project report ? plz send me

Er.HarjotM1 month ago

how can i collect the project report ? plz send me

Er.HarjotM1 month ago

how can i collect the project report ? plz send me

Mickleblade2 months ago

Hi, how did you mount the fan to the heatsink? it looks like the bracket is mounted on a thin sheet of aluminium which is just pushed into the gaps in the heatsink.

Joohansson (author)  Mickleblade2 months ago
Yes that is how i did it. The motor is then simply strapped to that piece of aluminium.
danielcortez2 months ago

How much money have you spent in doing this? answer please

Joohansson (author)  danielcortez2 months ago
From project description: "Total cost was about 50€ (incl. shipping costs). I used some spare parts but I bought most of it."
KristineD3 months ago

Hi Sir!

May I ask what is the highest possible temperature for both hot and cold side? This could be a great help for my research. Email: kristaaynne@gmail.com Thank you.

Joohansson (author)  KristineD3 months ago
Hi,
200 degrees Celsius for both sides in my project, but that depends on your module.
Thank you:)
PhilippeG14 months ago

with a big solar cooking and peltier?

Kristy luo8 months ago

We are manufacture from China with more than 10years EXP in supply with TEC-thermoelectric module, but now feel puzzled about TEC and TEG, yes, maybe they are different, Tec is peltier , Teg is seedbeck, and use in different way. Do you know

the other different? like the pellet inside?

Seebeck and peltier are the same thing a peltier uses the seebeck effect to operate

graceyspurek4 months ago

Hey it really a great idea to operate a fan without consuming much electricity. The heat produced by the candle can be easily converted into electric energy using a thermoelecric generator. Thank you for sharing this information and if you want to know more about such devices then please visit
http://www.analogtechnologies.com/products.html

anurag26824 months ago

what is the use of copper tube nd we can use for heating different things

1097939_699936770031899_1453756818_n.jpg
anurag26824 months ago

what is the use of copper tube nd we can use for heating different things

1097939_699936770031899_1453756818_n.jpg
yrayapati5 months ago

hi

that was grate idea. now I want to do it for school science exhibition project.

miremi made it!6 months ago

Author thanks!

I made one. I used:

Zalman CNPS 3X 10€,

Old GPU cooler 4€

Old case fan 1€

Motor from old cd drive

Thermoelectric module from ebay 6€ 12V 60W TEC1-12706.

It takes about 2-3 hours to make it.

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20140531_191307.mp4(402x714) 46 KB
Joohansson (author)  miremi6 months ago

Cool, nice work!!

I wish there was a way to use the heat generated by my 2009 27" iMac to use this project

repkid7 months ago

nice

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