Apple in talks with startup over new power chip

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
A startup developing a new thermal energy conversion chip has reportedly caught the attention of PC manufacturers Dell and Apple Computer.



Speaking at a conference in London last week, Eneco chief executive Lew Brown delivered a sales pitch to potential investors about a new "solid state energy conversion/generation chip" under development that will convert heat directly into electricity, according to the Green Business News.



Alternatively the chip can refrigerate down to -200 degrees celsius when electricity is applied, Brown said.



The chip is reportedly based on the principles of thermionic energy conversion whereby the energy of a hot metal overcomes the electrostatic forces holding electrons to its surface, then passes those electrons across a vacuum to a cold metal and captures the resulting electronic charge.



According to the report, the primary obstacle that has thus far prevented the process from being exploited at a commercial level lies in creating the vacuum between the two metals. But Eneco in its marketing material claims to have overcome the issue by replacing the vacuum with "a properly selected semiconductor thermoelectric that is thick enough to support a significant temperature differential between the emitter and the collector in order to achieve efficiencies of practical interest".



The company claims its chip, which can operate at temperatures of up to 600 degrees Celsius, can convert heat energy into electricity at an efficiency of between 20 and 30 percent.



While Eneco initially plans to target the existing thermoelectric market, its next potential endeavor will be in portable power, where it hopes its chips will ultimately replace high end lithium ion and polymer batteries used in laptops and other handheld devices.



"The company says it is already in talks with both Dell and Apple about how the chips could be used in their devices," the Green Business News reported. "Initial talks have focused on integrating the heat conversion chips into the device so it can harness the heat generated by processors and turn it into electricity to power fans or other cooling technologies."



Ultimately, Brown said he sees Eneco's chips replacing heavy and bulky consumer electronics batteries altogether, but admits there's much work to be done to get the first demonstrative products build.



"For example, we're not there yet [with Dell and Apple] on where [the chip will] sit on the motherboard," he said. "Though it is so small it could also be incorporated as part of the processor."



Eneco says its striving to have its first products available by the end of next year or early 2008.
«134

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 75
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,221member
    No, Apple is not in talks with Eneco. Eneco is trying to convince Apple and Dell that it is not full of it. Let's keep our facts straight, shall we?
  • Reply 2 of 75
    A heat to electricity converter is a technological holy grail. I can only assume that the technique they use involves periodically tuning and bleeding a pizeoelectric substance. I'm not sure how effective this is will when heat levels aren't very high.
  • Reply 3 of 75
    kishankishan Posts: 732member
    Is this even possible? As I remember my physics, heat - the random motion of molecules - is the highest entropy state possible and that without a high temperature gradient to cause heat to flow, no useful work can be obtained.
  • Reply 4 of 75
    endothermic reactions are possible and can be observed to exist. They usually tend to require some form of control or kickstart, but they do certainly exist.
  • Reply 5 of 75
    boogabooga Posts: 1,082member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kishan


    Is this even possible? As I remember my physics, heat - the random motion of molecules - is the highest entropy state possible and that without a high temperature gradient to cause heat to flow, no useful work can be obtained.



    An area of constant heat can't be turned into electricity, but a heat differential of any size can be. When you use electricity to transfer heat across a surface it's the Peltier effect, and when you reverse the process (convert a heat differential directly to electricity) it's the Seebeck effect.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peltier-Seebeck_effect



    The problem is that the process is extremely inefficient, since the area is always under significant pressure to equalize the temperatures, and most materials that can produce the Peltier-Seebeck effect are also good conductors of heat. (It's like trying to scoop water uphill.) If they're claiming 20-30%, that's pretty significant.
  • Reply 6 of 75
    This is the most intelligent conversation I've ever witnessed on AI.
  • Reply 7 of 75
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by polyester


    This is the most intelligent conversation I've ever witnessed on AI.



    You haven't been here long then. There was a thread awhile back about how can there be infinite decimals if the space between the two numbers is definite. I would find it for you but I'm lazy, sorry. Welcome to AI.
  • Reply 8 of 75
    tednditedndi Posts: 1,921member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by polyester


    This is the most intelligent conversation I've ever witnessed on AI.







    Sorry,



    Ahem,



    APPLE IS DOOMED!!!



    Is that better?



  • Reply 9 of 75
    How on earth could this technology replace batteries altogether? With 20-30% efficiency, that means that 70-80% of energy is lost. The idea of replacing batteries with this sounds like a perpetual motion machine. Bye bye 2nd Law of Thermodynamics!
  • Reply 10 of 75
    Hell I am not even out of high school and yet I even know that you can't replace batteries with this!



    If it only is 20-30% efficient, where the hell does the 70-80% come from? Plus not all of the electronics in a computer make a large amount of heat, but still use quite a bit of power like the screen.



    Longer battery life, yes. End of batteries, no.
  • Reply 11 of 75
    It couldn't replace batteries, but it could help makes things more efficient. Law of Conservation of Energy and all that...
  • Reply 12 of 75
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,221member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gruth


    How on earth could this technology replace batteries altogether? With 20-30% efficiency, that means that 70-80% of energy is lost. The idea of replacing batteries with this sounds like a perpetual motion machine. Bye bye 2nd Law of Thermodynamics!



    It clearly can't replace batteries. Supposedly, it would slow their discharge, but even this is unlikely. That this story is all over the Mac-centric web sites today is a testament to the poor state of science education.
  • Reply 13 of 75
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,839member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by polyester


    This is the most intelligent conversation I've ever witnessed on AI.



    Hey, maybe Global Warming is a good thing. We can use it to solve the energy crisis!
  • Reply 14 of 75
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Booga


    An area of constant heat can't be turned into electricity, but a heat differential of any size can be. When you use electricity to transfer heat across a surface it's the Peltier effect, and when you reverse the process (convert a heat differential directly to electricity) it's the Seebeck effect.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peltier-Seebeck_effect



    The problem is that the process is extremely inefficient, since the area is always under significant pressure to equalize the temperatures, and most materials that can produce the Peltier-Seebeck effect are also good conductors of heat. (It's like trying to scoop water uphill.) If they're claiming 20-30%, that's pretty significant.



    Yes, I remember from basic thermodynamics that the potential to generate useful work exists wherever there is a temperature gradient. But in flowing from hot to cold, the movement of heat causes a reduction in the gradient that drives the flow. In other words, you would have to find a way to keep this chip cold in order for it to continue to generate energy. Keeping something cold essentially amounts to raising its entropy and thusly will require an energy input. Where is the net gain? Or am I misunderstanding something more fundamental?
  • Reply 15 of 75
    irelandireland Posts: 17,798member
    You mean we can burn our thighs for even longer?

    /iMac myself, might get an Apple lappie mid 2007.
  • Reply 16 of 75
    jbljbl Posts: 555member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland


    You mean we can burn our thighs for even longer?



    Longer but less efficiently. 20% of the heat that used to go into your thighs will now go to recharge the battery.
  • Reply 17 of 75
    irelandireland Posts: 17,798member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JBL


    Longer but less efficiently. 20% of the heat that used to go into your thighs will now go to recharge the battery.



    Just a pure joke, I knew that. I always hated the way gas heating pumped out of my house through the waste vent, I though that heat could be useful in some way. Who knows, maybe in the future it could be used to power the thermostat or something.
  • Reply 18 of 75
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,567member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kishan


    Is this even possible? As I remember my physics, heat - the random motion of molecules - is the highest entropy state possible and that without a high temperature gradient to cause heat to flow, no useful work can be obtained.



    No, not quite. It isn't the highest entropy state. That would be the lowest temperature possible where all temperature is the same. No gradient.



    The greater the gradient, ther greater the amount of work that can be performed.



    This is how nuclear reactors work. They heat up water, which gains in pressure to turn turbines which turn generators.



    A direct conversion from heat to electricity is not new. Doing it cheaply, would be. It is uses in space vehicles that are unmanned, and have to travel too far from the sun for solar panels to be of use. The plutonium heats a thermionic converter.



    there does seem to be a problem with the article though. Near the end, it says that they are hoping to eliminate the heavy batteries in laptops.



    What was meant was that they were hoping that lighter batteries could be used instead.



    As for cooling. It is already being done with thermionic devices. Those small refrigerator/heating units that you can buy for under $100 use the principle, as do cpu coolers, along with heatsinks and fans.
  • Reply 19 of 75
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,567member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by reallynotnick


    Hell I am not even out of high school and yet I even know that you can't replace batteries with this!



    If it only is 20-30% efficient, where the hell does the 70-80% come from? Plus not all of the electronics in a computer make a large amount of heat, but still use quite a bit of power like the screen.



    Longer battery life, yes. End of batteries, no.



    I'm sure that it was a misunderstanding of what was said by the writer.
  • Reply 20 of 75
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,567member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kishan


    Yes, I remember from basic thermodynamics that the potential to generate useful work exists wherever there is a temperature gradient. But in flowing from hot to cold, the movement of heat causes a reduction in the gradient that drives the flow. In other words, you would have to find a way to keep this chip cold in order for it to continue to generate energy. Keeping something cold essentially amounts to raising its entropy and thusly will require an energy input. Where is the net gain? Or am I misunderstanding something more fundamental?



    You are misunderstanding, because you are thinking of a fixed source of heat, and a small, finiite dump. The heat in a laptop is constantly being replenished, and removed. Between the replenishing, and removal, would be a method that helps to recover that heat, turn it back into electricity, and either use it immediately to help run the machine, or push it back into the battery to recharge, like plugging the machine into the wall while using it.



    These methods are widely used in industry, just not with direct conversion.
Sign In or Register to comment.