Kids these days. If it’s not algae biofuel, then it’s safer football helmets. And now a Canadian fifteen year old has created a flashlight that requires no batteries or hand-cranking to pump out darkness enlightening, er…..light. Ann Makosinski from Victoria, British Columbia is our titular electrical engineer in this case, and her device uses nothing but off the shelf parts. Built from PVC pipe, LEDs, aluminum, and Peltier tiles – devices that are capable of producing electricity when one side of the tile is heated while the other side is cooled.
Makosinski placed an aluminum sleeve inside of the PVC pipe while cutting away a section of the pipe so the user’s hand can come in contact with the sleeve and heat up the Peltier tiles. While the tiles put out enough power to light up the LEDs, it did not put out enough voltage. After some tweaking, shopping, and soldering, she found a transformer capable of cranking up the voltage while fitting inside of the handheld flashlight. Makosinski has said she’s been interested in harvesting unused energy in the surrounding environment for some time, and although her proof of concept works it still needs some tweaking. Because the Peltier devices work off of heat differentials, the flashlight functions better in cold to moderate room temperatures.
Makosinski developed this flashlight for a grand total of $26 and entered it into the Google Science Fair. She was prompletely announced as one of the 15 finalists in her age group. This September, all the finalists from the 3 seperate age groups will gather in Mountain View, CA for a prize ceremony. Up for grabs is a grand prize of $50,000 and a trip to the Galapagos Islands.
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