Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Thermo-Electric Saucepan?

(Please take a look at our crowd-funding campaign at

Today we received our thermo-electric saucepan from TES New Energy. You can see some pictures of it below.

This amazing device provides a full-powered USB port when placed on a fire by using thermo-electric generation.

The interesting innovation is that by incorporating the thermo-couples into a saucepan the water in the pot keeps one side of the junction cool to maximise the power output, while ensuring that the about 98% of heat that the thermo-couple cannot turn into electricity heats your water.

This also means that they can use different types of thermo-couples that work better at different temperatures.  The hot-side of the pan uses lower-efficiency thermo-couples that can tolerate the higher temperatures, and the "cold" side of that is joined to the hot side of the lower-temperature thermo-couple which is also a little more efficient, and the water in the pan helps to make sure that this lower-temperature thermo-couple does not over heat.  Together, they  avoid the complications that would normally be present if using only one of the thermo-couples, either lower yield, or the potential to be damaged by higher-temperature fires.

The saucepan approach is also an elegant way to circumvent the atrocious inefficiency that typically plagues thermo-electric generators, since in a diaster or remote location you probably need hot water, anyway, a realisation that TES NewEnergy had following the mega earthquake that struck Japan recently.

So this saucepan is about enough to charge a phone if you are in the middle of nowhere, and solar isn't an option for whatever reason -- perhaps because the power is out due to storm, volcano, or just during bad weather.

Anyway, we are looking forward to some fun testing Serval mesh phones powered by a high-tech saucepan on a campfire.


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  2. Thanks for sharing this with me. I've been looking into electrical communication and I thought this was pretty cool. My brother said if I wanted to learn more I should try checking out this site .