Using Peltier Tiles, a 15-year old was able to create a flashlight that runs entirely on body heat.
15-year old Ann Makosinski has been selected as one of 15 finalists in Google’s Science Fair and will travel to Mountain View, California in September for the company’s prize giving ceremony. So what did she invent?
Makosinski harvested the power generating ability of Peltier Tiles to create an energy source for a simple flashlight. Peltier Tiles generate electricity once one side is heated while the other side is cooled. In this case, one side would be heated by the flashlight holder’s body temperature while the other side would be cooled by ambient air. She was able to generate enough power but initially hit a stumbling block when she couldn’t produce enough voltage to light the LED bulbs.
After spending months researching circuit boards and even building her own, she eventually bought one where the transformers could step up the voltage to the minimum level required to light the LED bulbs.
The flashlight is encapsulated in a PVC pipe with sections cut out so that the user can have direct contact with the Peltier Tiles.
She also found that if the amount of light being outputted would be more if there were a bigger difference between the body and ambient air temperature, and concluded that there should be at least a 5°C temperature difference for the light to work.
In total, her project cost just $26.
The winner of Google’s Science Fair will be flown to the Galapagos Islands for 10 days, and will also receive a $50,000 scholarship.