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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/

Or how to create a self regulated thermoelectric CPU-cooler:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Portable-Airflow-Companion/

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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oldship made it!15 days ago

Verry fun to copy your idear, hope you dont mind me doing so.

IMG_2794.JPG
viv1424 oldship14 days ago

Hello, so I wanted to do this for my science fair experiment, but I am a little confused. Did you install a separate motor and fan, or did you just use the fan and motor that came with that?? ->>http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835118128

oldship viv142410 days ago

the solar motor is bought on ebay, the fan is from a pc, cooler fan...glued them together... the peltier is also from ebay....

fan4.jpgfan2.jpg
Joohansson (author)  oldship14 days ago
Absolutely not. Really nice build you got there! Old fashion style.
Joohansson (author) 1 year ago
Some more images.
DSC_4379.jpgDSC_4370.jpgDSC_4394_night.jpgDSC_4380.jpgDSC_4385.jpgDSC_4382.jpg

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) 11 months ago

Together with my other instructable and with the new fan.

DSC00318.jpg
webbhost1 year ago
This would be so cool if you could use the heat produced from a CPU to power a fan to then cool it? Would make a completely self contained cooling system that would continue running when your computer has stopped, until your system has cooled back down!

Unfortunately my guess is that this is not possible because the CPU would overheat and die before it produced enough energy to turn the fan?

Is it possible to get more sensitive pads to generate energy quicker?
wacd webbhost19 days ago

You can not generate the power you need if your heat source needs to be cooled down.

Joohansson (author)  wacd19 days ago
Did you not see my comment or do you not believe I actually built and tested that? Maybe you can't cool it down as much as you can with a externally powered fan but you can deffinetely cool it to some degree and make it survive. Just a portion of the heat energy is enough to increase the cooling efficiency compared to a passive system.
Joohansson (author)  webbhost21 days ago

It is possible it seems, I build one myself:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Portable-Airflow-Companion/

If I'm not mistaken I think it's Coolermaster that has at least made a concept product of that exact idea. I would be interested in knowing how well it works. Probably only good enough for casual use, not gaming or anything. Though I know some gamers have used a peltier element by running electricity through it, with the cold side on the CPU, and the hot side against a cooling water block. Unfortunately, while it does make the CPU cold, a water cooling system is necessary because it produces even more heat in addition to that of the CPU
Joohansson (author)  webbhost1 year ago
I have been thinking about it and discussed it in another forum but it would probably burn up yes, but I hope someone will try it for real! There is research going on to create better materials but there are no magical peltier yet I think. You can of course place many of them in parallel to increase the heat transfer.

can i get the report of this project....i am doing thermal power engineering and i want to make this project...kindly send me the report at hamayun_toor@outlook.com

abtahee161 month ago

can you tell me about it's total weight?

sourabhk2 months ago

Hello sir,

I want to make this project (fan driven by candle power ). Can you suggest me from where i can get all the desire items.

Can you give me the entire procedure for assembling the items & relevant images & entire paper work like report for the same .

plz give me your email id for further contact.

sourabhk2 months ago

Hello sir,

I want to make this project (fan driven by candle power ). Can you suggest me from where i can get all the desire items.

Can you give me the entire procedure for assembling the items & relevant images & entire paper work like report for the same .

plz give me your email id for further contact.

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!

Joohansson (author)  Federicodelfrati2 months ago
I don't think your pc fans will run because they are 12V and your teg is max 7V.

hi, this is what i have build. it is ugly and heavy, but it works. i used 4 cheap chinese TEC1-12706 modules in row and a Shirakawa Micro Motor that runs at 0,3-1,5V. there is no reason bothering with expensive TEG's in this construction, because of the 10mm copper the heat on the hot side doesnt even reach 80°C, even with 2 candles. there is no reason to bother with more than 1 candle either, because the difference between cold and hot side is in any case after a few minutes only about 20°C. I tryed to improve it as much as possible, but the best way would be to build it vertically to have less Problems with heat on the cold side. the Switch you can see in the Pictures is to control the Ultra low voltage step up DC/DC Converter with energy harvesting Management and some other stuff I build in. it simply Switches between running "normaly" without electronics and "running automaticly". running automaticly means in this case that this http://www.linear.com/produkt/LTC3105 starts running and charges a 2,7V 10F super cap over energy harvesting Outputs wich autmatically gets used whenever the Input current reaches a specifyed lowpoint (0,3V) for a few seconds (20s) to give a short cooling boost at Maximum fan power... I had to do this, because when my candle burned down to a certain Point, the fan stoped running wich pissed me off and this way it keeps running till near the end of the candle. I might put up some other fan blades maybe, because the native ones from the arctic freezer I'm using dont move enoug air at such low rpm, maybe it runs better then and even produces a useable tiny amount of energy .

20150111_111340[1].jpg20150111_111354[1].jpg20150111_111412[1].jpg20150111_111433[1].jpg
Nice work!

sir where do i can get cpu-cooler hotside send me link about that

sir where do i can get cpu-cooler hotside send me link about that

sir where do i can get cpu-cooler hotside send me link about that

sir where do i can get cpu-cooler hotside send me link about that

sir where do i can get cpu-cooler hotside send me link about that

sir where do i can get cpu-cooler hotside send me link about that

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RKS44 months 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.HarjotM4 months 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)

danielcortez4 months ago

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

-thanks a lot

danielcortez4 months ago

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

danielcortez4 months ago

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

danielcortez4 months ago

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

danielcortez4 months ago

How many TEC do I need?

danielcortez4 months ago

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

tnx:)

danielcortez4 months ago

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

tnx:)

danielcortez4 months ago

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

tnx:)

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