The United Nations reports that more people in the world have mobile phones than have access to fully functional latrines. It may take the mind just a minute to comprehend that.
You Can Charge Small Electronic Devices Using Thermoelectrics
Low infrastructure cost is one of the main drivers of increasing cell usage in developing countries. However, solving one problem, it creates another. Namely, how do cell users without access to grid power charge their phones? The International Energy Agency reports that 1.3 billion people world-wide do not have access to grid power. For many others that do, grid power is extremely unreliable. Another side effect of the lack of electricity is that 3 billion must cook indoors on open fires, which contributes to significant health issues.
The question becomes what can be done about the need for electrical power for small electronics/appliances? One obvious approach has been the usage of solar panels. While a good solution in some instances, they do require outdoor sunlight to function. In addition to weather dependence, due to high visibility, theft of solar cells has become a major problem.
Another novel approach some forward looking companies are taking, and one that II-VI Marlow is involved with, is the use of thermoelectric power generation to address this issue. This approach removes the dependency on the sun and can be operated inside a dwelling any time of day or night. Implementation methods vary based on the various system manufacturers’ designs; but generally, a heat source (from a hydrocarbon fuel, bio-briquette, wood, etc.) combined with a cold sink is the basis for one of Marlow’s TG series thermoelectric modules that will produce power for cell charging, LED lighting, or even powering clean burning cook stoves. Obviously, the rigors of numerous heat cycles, high temperatures and long operational life must be accommodated. Reliability is what draws system manufacturers to II-VI Marlow. These same system manufacturers also know their product has to hold up in extreme conditions in order for the product to be successful. That’s why they count on the TG series modules for the heart of their products. We offer four standard TG series module designs, but our engineering team provides custom solutions as well.
On a side note, this solution isn’t only for developing countries. Several products are commercially available for the weekend backpacker/camper to help keep their electronic devices charged up and connected. These products are also an inexpensive way to keep electronics powered during power outage emergencies caused by extreme weather events.
Whether you are looking to solve the world’s electrical grid problems, prepare for your own outages or just add a little extra creature comfort, don’t forget to check out the II-VI Marlow TG series devices. We can help with emergencies… just as long as they aren’t biological!
Interested in learning more about potential thermoelectric generate consumer applications? Download our Thermoelectric Survival Guide.