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Using waste heat: 15-year old builds human-powered flashlight

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Fifteen year old Ann Makosinski was  inspired when she was told that humans are “like walking 100-Watt bulbs.” She decided to harness that bulb in a human-powered flashlight. By combining peltier tiles, a hollow aluminum tube, and a light-emitting diode (LED), the 10th graders was able to create a working flashlight powered by body heat. She got 2nd place in a science fair back home and then went on to win the 2013 Google Science Fair with her invention.

Peltier tiles generate electricity by converting thermal energy as it flows from a heat source to a cold source – that is, energy flowing from hot to cold. For those who haven’t seen Ann’s flashlight in action, check out this video:

Skip to the last 11 seconds of this video to see the flashlight in action.

Photo credit: Graphic of a Peltier element by michbich and founds using Creative Commons.

Melissa C. Lott About the Author: An engineer and researcher who works at the intersection of energy, environment, technology, and policy. Follow on Twitter @mclott.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. plswinford 12:57 pm 03/3/2014

    I don’t know what she intends to do some day (in the form of a job), but I fully expect her to greatly succeed. But the question has to be raised, what project placed first in her local science competition?

    Link to this
  2. 2. gmartfin 11:13 pm 03/3/2014

    She’ll probably take over the world by 19. Brilliant work (no pun intended).

    Link to this
  3. 3. John1982 3:40 am 03/27/2014

    A commendable research.There is hope for our future.
    Let think out of the box.

    Link to this

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