Looks like harvesting waste heat is all the rage in 2011. Yet another team of researchers -- this time at the University of Minnesota -- has found a way to harness energy from our hot castoffs. The group has apparently created a brand spanking new alloy that spontaneously creates energy when its temperature is raised by a small amount. Future uses for the material, known as Ni45Co5Mn40Sn10, include charging a hybrid car's battery with the help of waste heat from its exhaust. So what's the trick? Well, this wonder material is a phase changer, meaning it can go from non-magnetic to magnetic in moments, when the temperature rises. When that happens, the alloy absorbs heat, and bam! You've got electricity. The team is also collaborating with chemical engineers to create a thin film version of the material that could be used to convert waste heat from computers. If phase changing gets you all hot and bothered, check out a video demonstration of the alloy's sudden magnetism after the break.
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