Thermoelectric Generator (Heat to Electrical Power)




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Thermal Power Generator.
A medium Size Improvised Heat to Energy be used in camping,survival,or general use charging of electronic devices,via the charging of rechargeable battery/s,and any source of fire..combined with a rocket stove or camping stove,along with maybe bio gas fuel (optional) to aquire higher and faster burn rates for more power generation.

Perfect for disaster survival applications,as it allows power generation from a easy obtainable source "Fire" Solar power can only be obtained effectively in daytime hours and harvesting moonlight is difficult and expensive to create the lens needed to gather power,Wind Power the wind does not blow all the time some days have none at being the next and obvious choice for power,everyone knows fire is powerful and also dangerous so take care when using the device and beware of hot part on the heatsink etc. 

(I'am fully aware that there are others of the same device,this will be created using some highly improvised parts using a different method to others and will be good for reference and comparison to others out there)


Step 1: Parts Needed.

1: x1 Peltier Cell (heat to electrical energy)

2: Medium Size Aluminium Heatsink (salvaged from an old PC)
3: Selection of Thick Gauge Electrical Wire,x2 colours.(optional)
4: Input & Output plugs/jacks,pre bought,or made.(for power input and or output) (optional)
5: Project Box,partially heatproof if possible,use insulating material,metals,foil etc. (optional)
6: Thermal Paste (optional) Aluminium Metals & Foil (helpful)
7: Assorted Connectors for Battery/s.

8: Box cutter or exacto blade. (for cutting light metals)
9: Heavy Duty Scissors (for cutting metals)
10: Screwdriver assortment. (for sealing project box screws & in/out puts) 
11: Screw & Bolt assortment. (for attaching metal plates & headsink/s)
12: Soldering Iron & Solder (optional) used for welding wires more securely.
13: Rechargeable low to medium power rated battery (for recharging)
14: Heat "Shrink" pieces for heat shielding on wires added protection (necessary) 
15: x1 Blocking Diode,to prevent reverse charging.
16: x2 Aluminium cans. (metal plate)
17: Thick Copper Metal Wire.
18: Digital multimeter Voltage Tester.
(Anything listed as optional is not required but a helpful add-on or attachment,like the battery box and reverse charging diode)

Step 2: Construction.

Pretty simple to construct the main housing and working device itself.

1:Firstly cut up your metal plate section get your x2 drinking cans and cut the top and bottom off them,then cut in half,do this with both pieces untill you have 4 thin sections of aluminium metal,grab your x acto blade or boxcutter,line up the 4 pieces and weight them down with something,now cut a cross x4 in four corners of the metal,once done use a pair of pliers or scissors carefully crimp the metal outwards,add 4 screws with 4 Bolts insert into the holes you had cut for the plate,and use pliers to bend remaining metal sharp bits downwards and around the bolts.....The base plate is done.

2:Thermal paste if available apply this now to the heatsink & base plate using an old credit card too spread the paste into a nice square the size of the peltier module,place the peltier module as so the cold side is where the heatsink will be and the side that makes heat on the bottom,check this by attaching x2 1.5v batterys and holding the peltier to feel which side is which,push lightly into the thermal paste,and lay the Heatsink ontop of the peltier lightly pushing into the paste once again,now the last part to set up the unit itself use pliers to bend thick copper metal around the heatsink and under the bolts on the baseplate,takes a bit of fiddly bending light metals into place around the bolts on both sides fixing the heatsink into a sandwich with the peltier module and baseplate.....Main Unit is done.

Step 3: Testing & Videos.

Using A Single Tea candle inside a small bean tin covered in insulating tape,with a 30 Second stand created with a PC CPU Fan metal grate housing and a few metal rods,with which to stand the "Thermal Power Unit" power slowly rises over the flame and will continue to climb to a set voltage depending on amount of heat directed towards the base plate,Also (Cold) effects the devices performance,an ice cold day will cool the heatsink rapidly...combined with fuelled or powered rocket stoves,or sources of heat,can be connected to a battery and in turn power electronic devices.

Not really for everyday use,as i imagine the peltier cell will eventually crack or break in someway and make the device none effective,,but being able to harvest electrical power from any source or flame makes this perfect for out of the way places,camping,emergency purposes etc.

(See video for tests and digital voltage readings and speed it climbs,Indoor mini test on a "tea candle" Secondary Test on a Small Hobo Style Stove for about 3/4mins gave enough power to charge a battery or two,assuming you keep adding fuel to the stove)

When it decides to stop raining in the UK for a couple days will carry out longer more detailed tests too see the max output power.

Step 4: Upgrades.

Possible upgrades include.

1: Add another peltier cell to double output voltage. 
2: Connect A Joule Thief or more to up voltage by a small amount.
3: Use Better Heat conducting materials,Larger "Heat Sink" & Thicker Aluminium or metal base plate.
4: Copper tape,Or Thermal Paste to connect the Peltier cell/s to the heatsink more securely allowing for better heat transference.
5: Only Use a Rocket Stove Appliance to create localized heat,in one place below the unit,reducing heat loss,open pit fire sends heat in all directions,where as a rocket stove is more localized onto a singular place,creating more efficient heat distribution,and more energy collection..
6: Use multiple Linked Units,2 or more whole units on a fire pit collecting power,and linked in series to double output voltage.

7: Additional Heat Shielding on Wires,foil and insulation tape (rocket stoves tend to melt the wires a little)
8. Double Up,have two of everything and mount inside a suitable container along with the generator. (even if something breaks or burns out will still have spares)



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    29 Discussions


    5 months ago

    Hi. Do you have some figures (how many volts /(mili)amps per what level of heat... Or so?


    1 year ago

    I am investigating the idea of make a Waste Oil Burner to heat a swimming pool. Is it possible to construct a Thermoelectric Generator to produce enough power to run the Filtration Pump for the pool?

    Any suggestions on where I could find information, plans, designs etc would be greatly appricated.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Peltier Cells generate incredibly small amounts of current for the amount of heat required. If you need to generate electricity via waste oil then a steam powered generator would be the way to go. Otherwise, solar would be much cheaper and a better long term solution.


    1 year ago

    Could this be used with a smaller, copper heatsink? The heatsink in question is 80mm (L) x 40mm (W) x 10mm (H).


    3 years ago

    Can we use nitrogen for other side of cooling I think it will be efficient and we can gain more voltage....... Please answer me

    6 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Nitrogen near open flame think would be a seriously dangerous idea being highly explosive,adding a fan and bigger heatsink would be better,or environmental cooling using icy air snow etc.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Damn that stuff is a whole lot more toxic and hazardous than i initially thought thanks for the info.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Nitrogen is neither explosive nor toxic what are you talking about. It's the lack of oxygen that kills not a high amount of nitrogen. Just make sure that you are in a ventilated area with fresh air coming in and you should be good. Btw, nitrogen is inert so it can't possibly be explosive. A sealed tank full of nitrogen exposed to heat might explode because of pressure, but not the gas itself. It is still a bad idea to use nitrogen as a cooling agent since it would be too troublesome to contain/transport, and there are easier and cheaper substitutes, however not for the above-mentioned reasons IMO.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Don't see how that would would,unless the heli was in a sizeable fire.


    Reply 2 years ago

    would "work"


    2 years ago

    Is this enough to power a phone?

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Yeah it is enough,just don't expect a fast charge speed.

    Just4Fun Media

    4 years ago

    A friend and I built this very efficient Thermoelectric Generator for $7.50.
    It can generate power from a temperature gradient of 5 degrees celsius or greater and can withstand up to 300 degrees celsius before shutting down.

    Please vote for our entry in the instructables contests!

    Have a great day!

    3 replies
    Just4Fun Mediasroy27

    Reply 3 years ago

    My generator is able to produce over 3 Watts at peak operating conditions, more than enough to charge a cellphone, tablet, or camera.

    Have a great day! :-)

    exequielJust4Fun Media

    Reply 3 years ago

    can I buy your man made product because we badly needed it this february please for Project sake. We will credit you the soonest. just reply back if you want us to buy your product