Thermoelectric power essentially turns heat into electric power, a source which is as yet highly infeasible. While we generate a lot of heat through vehicles and in factories, even the best thermoelectric equipment can actually convert only a fraction of it.

However, researchers have been able to create a new material from lead telluride which, they believe, can significantly improve the effectiveness of thermoelectric power generation.

The best thing about this material is that it isn’t prohibitively expensive and thus, can be used to create more viable and efficient thermoelectric systems. Researchers hope that this new material can produce as much as 20% more electric power from heat, compared to the earlier materials.

It works optimally at temperatures as high as 650°C. At such a temperature, it can convert nearly 20 percent of the thermal energy into electric power, a yield which is not much but is still a leap over the earlier best. Imagine 20% of your car’s heat being converted back into electric power to, say, charge your laptop or smartphone. This can significantly reduce your car’s fuel consumption.

Researchers are hopeful that this new material can be used in power plants and industrial facilities to generate sizeable electric power from the bulk of heat energy that is produced there.

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