Electrical Engineer Discovers How To Harness Electricity In The Dark

We’ve all heard about generating electricity from the sun’s heat and light (solar power). But if there was a way to harness energy at night when the sun goes down…when the demand for lighting peaks, when solar cells stop working, and when winds usually die down…

Well, one man has achieved harnessing electricity at night when the moon is up and the sun goes down. Sure, it’s been theoretically spoken of in the past, but finally it’s been executed. Even if his prototype doesn’t produce much of any electricity right now, it holds a special spot for future work to come. Let’s meet the man behind the creation….

Electrical engineer, Dr. Aaswath Raman from the University of California, was driving through a small village in Sierra Leone in 2013 when he came up with an idea. It didn’t even occur to him that he was driving through a village because it was so dark. This village had no electricity, and all he could make out were the voices of human shadows. In that instant, he wondered if there was a way he could harness all of that darkness in the village to create electricity, the opposite of how solar energy works.

Dr. Raman went to work, and created a device that powered a light bulb at night when the sun was down. The devices uses radiative cooling by releasing heat unevenly, and then taking the difference of that heat with a thermoelectric generator to produce electricity. Basically, Dr. Raman’s device takes the difference of temperatures that take place once the sun is up and then when the sun is down to create electricity.

 

Dr. Raman’s Prototype Device that harnesses electricity at night by using differing daytime and nighttime temperatures. – https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/12/science/solar-energy-power-electricity.html

 

Dr. Raman’s prototype device doesn’t produce much power, since there is only a slight differing effect from warm to cool; however, this device sets in motion the start of something that could be bigger and better in the future. His device shows the future use of powering things at night that don’t require a lot of juice. The device is also hopeful for remote areas without electricity, and in instances where changing batteries for solar powered objects is a challenge. 

 

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