The Seebeck effect (named after the physicist Thomas Johann Seebeck) is created when high variations in temperature are converted into electricity. The inverse phenomenon is also applicable in case of the Seebeck effect, meaning that electricity can also be converted to create temperature differences.
What we will do is create a generator that uses the Seebeck effect and encompasses a module that has one cold and one hot side, which will fuel the motor, by using the difference in temperature between the two sides.
To get you started, you will need the following:
- 2 CPU coolers: one for the hot side (you can use a 7.8×6.3×6.7cm WxLxH from a PC you don’t use anymore)and another one for the cold side (a Zalman CNPS5X base plate)
- A 1 or3 volt DC motor
- A Peltier Module (TEC1-12703 of 40x40x3.3mm)
- A metal, USB fan (high air flow) – you can even use a stove fan for better results
- Two strings
- An aluminum tube
- Wooden platform
- 4 x M4 bolts
- 2 x M3 bolts
- MX-4 Thermal Compound (4g)
- Small circular wheel
If you have any other components that you wish to use, feel free to do so. However, keep in mind that the thermo-electric generator should be smaller in size than the base plate used for the hot side).
The lower the voltage of the DC motor, the lower the level of noise it will make.
A base plate should be considered for the overall module, as it will act as an insulator and prevent heat from escaping.
The thermal compound or paste is required for exploiting the maximum variations in temperature. The higher the differences, the better the motor, and therefore the fan will work.
Cut the lower heat sink until you reach the following dimensions: 78x63x15mm. When you have done this, use a drill to create four holes, one in each corner of the sink and use the M4 to bolt the sink down to the platform made out of wood. Maintain a distance of up to 4.5 cm between the platform and the sink of the hot side, so to avoid the black smoke and still allow the sink to warm up just the right amount and protect the generator from being fried.
Now, attach two springs to the M3 bolts to secure the lower side of the sink. Make sure that at this stage you also use the thermal compound. Smear the Peltier module with the thermal compound on both sides and insert it between the lower part of the upper heat sink and the springs. The role of the springs is that it enables heat to move from one side to another.
The Peltier module will be attached to the DC power supply, whereas the motor will be linked to the upper side of the sink through a cable. Last but not least, you will create a sort of alternator, therefore, glue the USB fan to the motor with the help of a circular belt.
Once this is done, place a candle underneath and ignite it. If using one candle, this device will produce 0.1 watts, and up to a 0.36 watts, if used 2 candles.
This particular method is useful, especially in off grid survival situations, as it will help you maintain warm with little to no fuss. The cost of all the materials listed above is no higher than 50 bucks. Provided you go to yard sales or junk yards, you can find all of these necessary components for much less.