Can I produce electricity out of heat?

18 March 2014

Question

Can I produce electricity out of heat?

Answer

Chris - That's of course what a lot of space probes are doing, isn't it? They're using the thermoelectric effect.

Richard - The spacecraft can generate energy all sorts of ways using solar panels, using light, you can use heat. There's 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 - It's plutonium I think and it's 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 it's still going strong and it's still probably now left the solar system. They still can't tell quite where it is.

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