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Thermal Heat - hot air or a cool innovation?

Dec 11, 2018

Written By

Stephen Wright

Business Development Manager

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Thermal heat - is it getting hot in here?

Geothermal heating has been used for a millennia; simply put it refers to the extraction of heat from the ground that is at a much higher temperature than above ground and can be used to heat water or buildings alike. Hot springs are a good example of geothermal heating that we can all enjoy but what has changed in the pursuit of energy efficiency and thermal heating?

Recent innovations have led scientists to a similar solution to yesterdays blog on kinetic energy, people. Humans generate a large amount of body heat that is wasted as we expel it from our bodies but scientists have been able to harness this heat using geothermal principles at Stockholm Central Train Station. Standard heat exchanges convert the heat from 250,000 daily visitors into a source to heat water which is then sent to a nearby office building to be used. This method provides 25% of the heat needed by the large commercial office building that also utilises many other renewable sources. Much like yesterday, these large pedestrian heavy areas could soon power the local vicinity just from the power of people.

What else could the human body power? Perhaps our own tech devices, engineers have managed to design a wearable flexible thermoelectric energy harvester that has the ability to exchange our body heat into electricity that could then power our wearable tech devices (phones, watches etc). Further to this, it could even be possible in the future to convert this into energy that could be used as a wireless charger for our devices giving us power when we are most active.

The question for innovators is, how far can we take the human body as a source of renewable energy?

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