Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Goodbye to the Alternator?

An Alternative to your Alternator
New thermophotovoltaic materials could replace alternators in cars and save fuel.

Appears that nanotech has made an old idea new again. This is very exciting and, if it works well and can be inexpensively built, will help us conserve even more fuel.
The technology, called thermophotovoltaics, uses gasoline to heat a light-emitting material, in this case tungsten. A photovoltaic cell then converts the light into electricity. The idea has been around since the 1960s, says John Kassakian, MIT electrical engineering and computer science professor. But until now, the light emitters for the photovoltaics produced inefficient and very costly systems. Improvements in the materials used in these latest devices -- possible in part because researchers can modify the material structure at the nanoscale -- are now making much more efficient systems, Kassakian says.

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