Scientists Open Door to Laptop That Literally Screams

Scientists at the University of Utah have developed a way to convert the wasted heat in electronic devices into sound and then electricity, promising cooler, greener, and perhaps louder, computers and other machines. Orest Symko, the University of Utah physics professor heading the research effort, said in a statement that five of his doctoral students had come up with improved thermoacoustic engines. These devices convert heat into sound waves, which drive a pressure-sensitive mechanism to produce electricity.

The researchers, funded by a U.S. Army effort to improve the performance of battlefield electronics, plan to present their findings this Friday during the annual meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Salt Lake City, Utah. Scientists from Washington State University and the University of Mississippi are also participating in the project. One of Symko's doctoral students, Myra Flitcroft, created a cylindrical heat engine about half the size of a penny that generates a 120 decibel whine, which is as loud as a siren or a rock concert.

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News source: InformationWeek

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How about instead the waste heat is used to heat water and produce steam, which then turns a turbine and generates electricity that way?

Yeah, I can imagine that. Steam-powered laptops ftw!

Steam generators are massive and to condense them to such sizes would be near impossible atm, without even taking into account the pressures needed; at such a small scale with such high pressures it wouldn't work, at least for the next 30 years.

I don't think this is a realistic option tba.

What if the sound being produced was above or below the range of the human ear? Then it could make all the noise it wants and no one would be able to hear it.

most of the time the technology to convert this energy costs more than the energy puts out. Therefor loosing money, take energy efficient furnaces and hybrid cars for example, yes they are more efficient, but you dont see that much of a difference at the gas bill.

So potentially a noisy battefield could help power (secondarily I would assume) the electronics in say a tank, but surely such devices are unthinkably delicate?

and this is usefull technology because?

This might be good for the porn addicts. I'm sure they wouldn't mind the screaming.

would be good source of power inside a notebook. cpu and gpu produce a lot of heat. if that could be converted to sound + existing sound, then electricity it could make a laptop more efficient rather than just simply trying to dissipate the heat.