The researchers use the thermal energy generated by body temperature to power a small, self-sustaining electronic equipment detecting fever from wearables.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, public temperature measures have become a normal practice worldwide. Texas A&M University researchers are trying to make it even easier to test the body temperature of a large number of individuals more quickly at a low cost than conventional systems allow. If successful, this device might benefit a large group of people, particularly when used in a public location to quickly and accurately detect fever. The fever detector can be circulated at a low cost to a large number of uncertain people in public places, and this technique could be useful in the initial and rapid detection of fevers caused by viral infectious diseases such as SARS, COVID-19, swine flu, and MERS.
Since fever detection can be an efficient method to reduce viral spread during a pandemic, a low-cost, visible, and self-sustaining technique is required to achieve this goal. Thermal energy reuse has a lot of potentials because an output voltage can be generated by a difference in temperature caused by the fever. An electrochromic fever detector had been developed and connected to the heat energy generator to visualize changes in temperature.
The team is working on developing an effective way of providing power to their fever detection device by leveraging the thermal energy generally wasted by users via the corrosive properties of carbon steel electrodes using new thermo-hydro-electrochemical energy conversion precepts. To generate current and voltage, the device uses carbon steel corrosion. The device's duration is determined by the rate of corrosion. Given the typical corrosion rate of carbon steel, the amount used by their device can last over a decade.
Although the team is already working on improving the device's energy and current, the preliminary results are promising, with the measured thermal to energy transformation creating an incredible 87 millivolts for each 0C. This has provided a few voltages enough to power traditional wearable devices connecting 4-8 devices in series, as opposed to the traditional thermoelectric devices, which require around 1000 devices to achieve an equivalent voltage.