Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Power of Heat

PostedMarch 9, 2014

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Anchor Lead: A technology used by NASA to keep spacecraft running and the Mars rover rolling, might generate renewable energy here on Earth.

Randy Atkins: Many space missions are powered by heat that’s converted into electricity by thermoelectric generators. The process uses carefully-engineered materials…and literally “hot” radioactive material as fuel. Emily Warren, of the Colorado School of Mines, would like to adapt the engineering to use different heat sources, like those we produce to run things here on Earth.

Emily Warren: In a combustion process we throw away two-thirds of the heat so there’s a huge opportunity to capture some of that lost heat and directly turn that into electricity.

Randy Atkins: Another option is the Sun.

Emily Warren: We know how to concentrate sunlight with mirrors, we know how to store heat, and we know how to use thermoelectric. So it’s an engineering challenge to put all those things together.

Randy Atkins: Especially in a way that’s more energy efficient than current power sources. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.