With no moving parts, this simple
energy-recycling generator scavenges
waste heat from a candle and turns
it into usable electricity.
Peltier cells are flat devices that draw heat from one side
to the other through a thermoelectric principle called the
Peltier effect. The cells are commonly used to pump heat
away from CPUs or graphics cards, and are also found
in camping coolers and heaters. The Amazing Seebeck
Generator uses one of these devices in reverse, to turn a
heat differential into electricity, rather than using electricity
to produce a heat differential.
I originally made the project because I wanted something
like a steam-powered generator, but without the noise and
maintenance issues associated with steam. I was pleasantly
surprised when I found that my $5, 37-watt Peltier cell from
eBay could capture the heat from a single tea candle or
alcohol burner and use it to generate about 5 volts at 1 amp,
which made it perfect for powering radios, mobile phones,
and LED lights. You can make the Amazing Seebeck Generator in less than an hour using mostly scrap or recycled
parts, and it has a distinctly steampunk feel to it.
Photograph by Steve Double
Set up: p. 125
Make it: p. 126 Use it: p. 129
Andrew Lewis is a keen artificer and computer scientist with interests in 3D scanning, computational theory, algorithms,
and electronics. A relentless tinkerer, his love of science and technology is second only to his love of all things steampunk.