How to transform heat into electricity with a simple piece of paper


    EL PERIÓDICO and the Barcelona Materials Science Institute (ICMAB, CSIC) publish a series of videos and articles every Wednesday until September 7 within the framework of the popular science project 'YouMaker: this is how science is done '. This is content in which various experts will explain in a didactic way the processes for preparing materials used in the fields of energy, electronics and medicine, such as batteries or solar cells, from their laboratories and with the participation of professional science popularizers.

    Can you imagine having a paper factory in a laboratory? And that the factory is ready? formed by small bacteria that did not stop producing day and night? Well, it's not science fiction. There is a type of bacteria that produce cellulose fibers 24/7 and manage to intertwine them to form cellulose membranes that look like sheets of paper! A very pure, very fine and very resistant cellulose.

    An ICMAB team is working on this, including researchers Anna Laromaine and Mariano Campoy-Quiles, who are developing a material called thermopaper with this bacterial nanocellulose. The thermopaper is not only It is not made up of cellulose, but it has carbon nanotubes in its structure, which give it high electrical conductivity, necessary for the application they are looking for: they want to create a thermoelectric material!

    Electric voltage

    Thermoelectric materials are those that generate an electrical voltage from a temperature difference. They are very useful materials to take advantage of the heat that is released from electrical devices, for example, and convert it into electricity, or to generate energy from the difference in temperature between the ground and the air.

    Thermopaper could be used to power sensors in vineyard irrigation systems, taking advantage of the difference in temperature between the air and the ground, or it could cover electronic devices and so on. They reuse the heat they emit, preventing the energy from being dissipated into the vacuum. Furthermore, thermopaper is a biodegradable material and the carbon nanotubes that form it can be reused many times for future thermopaper or new applications.

    If you want to know more about this fantastic material and discover how it is made, don't miss the video “How is thermopaper made?” from the YouMaker project: so science is done, with the scientific communicator Guillermo Orduña, the researcher Anna Laromaine, from the Group of Nanoparticles and Nanocomposites, and the researcher Mariano Campoy-Quiles from the Group of Nanostructured Materials by Energy, of the ICMAB.

    YouMaker is a project of the Barcelona Institute of Materials Science (ICMAB, CSIC) in collaboration with the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) of the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

    How to transform heat into electricity with a simple paper

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