A significant amount of energy is lost as waste heat everyday – from the exhaust of car engines to all known current electronic devices – and harvesting this waste heat could provide
significant energy savings. For example, harvesting just 5% of the energy lost as waste heat by car engines in the UK would save the equivalent of 1 hundred thousand equivalent tonnes of oil per year (or approximately 1% of the UK’s total energy usage in 2014).
Existing thermoelectric technology could be used to harvest such waste heat, however, the efficiencies and associated cost(s) currently limit the applications. A potential ‘game changer’ in this area is the spin Seebeck effect, a newly discovered phenomena that has enables separation of the key physical parameters that limit the efficiency of conventional thermoelectrics. This is due to a completely different device architecture where, instead of a 3D arrangement of p- and n-type pillars between two ceramic blocks, a patterned thin film could be deposited onto a surface.
A team at Loughborough University has demonstrated that this effect can be realised on amorphous surfaces (such as glass) with similar energy conversion efficiencies. This is a crucial step towards realising more widespread use of this technology that has, up until now, been limited to thin films on expensive single crystal substrates.
 “National Statistics, Energy Consumption in the United Kingdom: 2012”, Department of Energy & Climate Change. (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/energy-consumption-in-the-uk)
The text is kindly provided by Kelly Morrison.