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high output metal to metal thermoelectric generator? Answered

I saw this on youtube:

He has like 16 wires in this setup, and it generates enough power to light an LED... how much power could you get with some more wires? Say 1600?
Does the thickness of the wire matter?

Sorry to make you watch the youtube video, if you don't want to, here's what's going on. This guy, Nyle, uses copper wire lengths which he has heated at one end and cooled to coat each end of each length with copper oxide. He then bends the wire so that two ends of copper oxide-coated wire are touching and another end is about 3 inches from the junction. By heating the loose end, and touching one wire to another, he's able to generate enough current to light an LED... pretty neat!


Its not high output, compared to a Peltier cell.

He's essentially making thermocouples, which produce micro or nano-amps.

Mmm, no, you'd be surprised.


FASCINATING website by the way.

Sure, but to be of any use the thermopiles shown on this site had to be huge. How much fuel do you suppose it took to power a thermopile 98 inches high and 39 inches in diameter? "And this yielded 109 Volts, with an internal resistance of 15.5 Ohms. The maximum power output was therefore 192 Watts, at 54 Volts and 3.5 Amps." That's pretty respectable - until you compare it to the energy cost of a steam or diesel generator providing the same output.

What's your point ? Mine was that they aren't confined to nanoamps of output, it wasn't about the efficiency which is typically only about 1/2% IIRC.

The best you can get from an engine is probably 25%-ish.
What thermo-junctions DO not make is much voltage per couple.

Look at the rest of the site, and "the steam powered electrostatic generator"

Yes, but you have to look at the trade-off. It costs a lot more to run a bunsen burner needed to cause this reaction than it would to just connect the LED to a battery. This is often the case with the quack "alternative" energy solution sites that seem to be popping up these days.

The laws of conservation of matter say that matter and energy can not be destroyed, they can only change forms. In other words when you burn wood in a fireplace it doesn't actually "go away", rather some of its matter is turned energy in the form of heat. It is true that one form of energy, such as heat, can be converted to another like electricity. The problem is that matter and energy conversion can't always be done efficiently and may result in a net loss that outweighs any benefit. This is not always the case, but with this thermocouple effect it is.