A Canadian girl named Ann Makosinski, just 15 years of age, has invented a flashlight called the "Hollow Flashlight" that takes heat energy from the hand and converts it into light energy. Makosinski has been participating in science fairs since she was six.
Makosinski has plans to participate in Google’s online science fair in September. The winner will get a $50,000 scholarship and a trip to the Galapagos Islands.
It was Makosinski’s fascination with “harvesting surplus energy” that led to this invention, she said. It was Peltier tiles that she started to research on. These tiles have the ability to take body heat and convert it into usable light, which resulted in the hollow flashlight. This flashlight has the ability to emit light just by the touch of a hand.
This flash light is no joke! It can come in use during emergency situations. Flashlights that need battery are cumbersome, since these batteries may run out. Batteries also need proper disposal, so the hollow lights are more environment-friendly as well. The greatest benefit, of course, is that they can be trusted to work without worrying about power remaining.
Makosinski said in an interview with a news agency, “I’m really interested in harvesting surplus energy, energy that surrounds but we never really use.”
Peltier tiles are just pieces of material that have the ability to take in energy when they are placed in two different temperatures. Makosinski then did some research on whether the energy exiting the hand could be enough to light a bulb. Some transformers were needed before a LED could be powered.
Then in order to maintain the difference in temperature between one side and the other of the Peltier, a method had to discovered, since the hand can easily provide heat, but not keep the cool. Makosinski then used an aluminum tube to transfer the cooler ambient air to the underside of the Peltier tile. Another prototype used aluminum in a PVC pipe to achieve the difference, allowing just enough skin contact to heat the top side of the tiles.
Both of the prototypes emitted enough light for about 20 minutes.
Makosinski said she built the flashlights for about $26, but mass production has the ability to lower the costs.