A group of scientists from China conducted a successful experiment to test a new material - thermo galvanic gel. It was specially designed to eliminate the Achilles heel of modern lithium-ion batteries, which get very hot during use. The idea is not just to dissipate excess heat, but to immediately convert it into electricity.
Now, to maintain powerful batteries in electric vehicles under optimal thermal conditions, they are forced to cool. That is, first, the system spends energy on heating the element, and then also on cooling - this can hardly be called a rational approach. Chinese scientists have developed a hydrogel with a special structure, in which more and more ions are released as it heats up. They move between two electrodes and generate an electric current.
The heat that remains after the electrons are fired goes to heat the water contained in the hydrogel. It will eventually evaporate, transferring this heat away from the system. But after stopping heating, the hydrogel, on the contrary, begins to absorb moisture from the air until it stabilizes. Scientists still find it difficult to say how the system will behave during long-term continuous operation - the risk of drying out of the hydrogel itself is not excluded.
During the experiment, a 2 mm thick film was used, which was wrapped around the smartphone battery. Scientists managed to get a temperature drop of 20 degrees and generate 5 microwatts of energy. Of course, the indicator is not high, but the technology is also experimental. Like braking energy recuperation systems, it can become an auxiliary module in the overall power grid of an electric vehicle.