Science Questions

Can I produce electricity out of heat?

Tue, 18th Mar 2014

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Question

siyabulela asked:

Can I produce electricity out of heat?

Answer

Chris - That's of course what a lot of space probes are doing, isnít it? They'rePhotovoltaic solar panels on the roof of a house near Boston Massachusetts using the thermoelectric effect.

Richard - The spacecraft can generate energy all sorts of ways using solar panels, using light, you can use heat. Thereís also a great thing you can use in space which is a difference in temperature from one side of your spacecraft to the other side of your spacecraft. So, you've got a difference of a few hundred degrees between one side and the other which it is like you've got a refrigerator in space. So, you can do all sorts of cool things with that as well.

Chris - I think the Voyager probe is using...

Richard - Itís plutonium I think and itís only got a few more years left in it in theory. But then they said that about Voyager for the last 5, 10 years and itís still going strong and itís still probably now left the solar system.  They still can't tell quite where it is.

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