The free energy is all around us: different objects throw out heat and it lost. Is there any way to turn losing heat into useful source of energy? Yes. Using thermoelectric technology, this is becoming possible.

Two students from the Institute of Interaction in Copenhagen decided to try to create a table for IKEA, which will consume a  warmth from objects and then transform it into electricity. In other words, the warmth from your plates and cups can charge a phone or other electronic device.Working in Space 10, the IKEA’s research laboratory, students named their concept project Heat Harvest.

The temperature difference between objects can generate electricity and this is a main principle of the idea. It’s said in project description that a laptop will consume and then emit about 40 watts of electricity, that makes this research really useful from the energy efficient point of view. The embedded in table pad will absorb the heat and send it to a thermoelectric generator (a small one to fit in the pad). Then the resulting energy goes back to the table surface  with a help of  wireless charging dock.

The problem of thermoelectrics is about material that must be a good conductor of electricity and a bad conductor of heat at the same time. This kind of materials were very expensive till this time: nowadays Alphabet Energy and Tellurex are producing cheaper versions that use nanotechnology to make any old semiconductor worse at conducting heat.

The technologies are developing fast in our time so we may wait for this concept to become a reality in the nearest future.