Walter Lovell of Lovell Patented Technology has patented his invention "Monothermal" which he claims produces electrical current without utilizing existing methods that require heat differential (any method that converts temperature differences into electrical energy - Seebeck Effect, Thomson Effect, etc.) and without requiring a chemical reaction (i.e. a redox reaction in batteries).
The invention can be said to be similar to photoelectric cells (solar panels) that motivate electrons by exploiting photons (light), except that the Monothermal motivates electrons via infrared radiation, and any molecular activity that produces heat, without a non-differential heated environment.
According to the inventor's website "instead of plugging in your iPod or cell phone to recharge at night , or adding one of those clunky, oversized third party batteries that add weight and change the form factor in an effort to give you a couple more hours of use , why not add the Monothermal to the equation and allow the waste heat created by elements of the device to be recaptured and channeled back into creating more energy, which can then be utilized by that device? What if the simple act of carrying a cell phone or iPod in your pocket caused its battery to charge, since even body heat will have a positive effect on the function of the Monothermal?"
"The Monothermal doesn't utilize a redox reaction (batteries) to create energy, and it's not dependent on the restrictions inherent in the thermoelectric effect." Todd Guenther, one of the principals behind the current effort to market and proselytize the invention says "It's an incredibly simple construct. When you take a look at the other methods that have been developed to harness waste heat and convert that heat to energy, most of them are eccentric in their methodology."
The inventor says an early prototype produced in 1995 worked uninterrupted for more than a decade, powering LCD clocks and a tabletop fan in a room-temperature environment.
A review of the patent reveals a very simple device. "An inner and outer laminate contain a combination of two binder agents," says Guenther. "That's really all there is to it. It's a simple invention from top to bottom - the constituent elements, the process of combining them, and the flexibility that's achieved in applying them to nearly any form factor".
The inventor imagines Monothermal being used for everything from computer cases, television sets, and iPods, to refrigerators, automobile engine compartments, and rooftop applications. "Even submersion in thermal wells to provide energy to industry, or installing the Monothermal in place of - or in concert with - solar panels," said Guenther. "There's no end to the potential of finally capturing and utilizing the waste heat generated by so many of our current devices, appliances, and machines. It's nearly all wasted energy. We need to recapture it and put it to use, now more than ever."
Credit: Lovell Patented Technology
Top image shows early Monothermal working prototype
For more read : Energy Harvesting and Storage for Electronic Devices 2010-2020