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Device and method for converting thermal energy into electrical energy

Image Number 4 for United States Patent #7816601.

A device and method for using a field-responsive material that changes temperature when subjected to a respective field in combination with a thermal to electrical energy converter to accomplish the generation of electrical energy. The field-responsive material, such as an electrocaloric or magnetocaloric material, changes temperature when subjected to a change in a respective electric or magnetic field. The changing field applied to the field-responsive material causes a temperature change in the field-responsive material to heat or cool the field-responsive material. A thermal to electrical energy converter is in thermal contact with the field-responsive material, such that temperature changes in the field-responsive material in turn changes the temperature of the thermal to electrical energy converter, which the converter then converts into electrical energy. In this manner, the application of an appropriate electric or magnetic field can be utilized to generate thermal energy changes that can be converted into electrical energy.

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