15-Year-Old Invents Incredible New Kind Of Torch

Are you ready to play everybody's not-so-favorite guilt game: what was I doing at that age? Ann Makosinski, a high school student from British Columbia, Canada, has created a simple LED torch powered by body heat. So instead of having to recharge it or swap in a fresh pair of AAs every so often, you literally just need to hold it in your hand for it to start glowing.

Makosinski has been entering science fairs since she was in year 6, and she has an interest in alternative energy, particularly harvesting all the wasted energy around us. While researching her favourite topic, she came across a device called a Peltier tile, which produces electricity when cooled on one side and warmed on the other.

After crunching the numbers, she determined that the warmth from a human hand could produce enough energy via a Peltier tile to power an LED in a torch. And after several prototypes, a few dead ends and plenty of frustration, she managed to produce two working prototype torches -- one made of aluminium pipe and the other PVC pipe -- that earned her a spot as one of the 15 Google Science Fair finalists from around the world.

The parts that went into the torch cost a mere $26, but if Makosinski manages to win the grand prize in the science fair she'd walk away with a $50,000 scholarship. It's certainly an impressive feat for a 15-year-old, particularly if you remember back to what you were doing at that age. Inventing a revolutionary new gadget? Probably not. [YouTube via CBC via Damn Geeky]



    I was hacking a remote control car transmitter into something that would transmit audio when I was 15.

    Impressive, what a great idea.

    Although when she said that she '...realised humans are a great source of untapped thermal energy...' I immediately remembered that scene from the matrix with all the babies/people in pods (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--MrBpm4vIdU/UFOCBz-IIpI/AAAAAAAABaA/Rd41n4Yu2ws/s1600/matrix+baby.jpg).

    Great idea. It'd be an awesome 'blackout torch'. Not too good for things like camping. I love going winter fishing. I'm typically wearing gloves. Outside it's too cold. It might glow for a minute or 2 until my hand cools down.

    But. Horse for course. Blackout torch for the house, this is right up there for brilliant.

    And imagine having a phonecase with this technology. As you hold your phone to your head and chat, it gives a small charge. More talk time. And given I keep my phone in my pocket against my leg, it'd constantly get charged up.

      You want it to last longer in cool conditions? You want your hands free? Stick one in your armpit.
      Doctors used to put thermometers there [along with... other... warm body locations] so a small hole in you shirt should be ok.
      Given a metal case, you could even have a deoderant logo on the outside. Heck, make them an advertising gimmick.

    I agree, great idea in a cool place like Victoria, BC but imagine trying to use this in hot areas of the world. Since the Peltier tiles require one side to be cooled or just relatively cool to the human hand, this would not work well in hot areas.

    Having said that, if the back end had a screw cap you could always pop in a few ice cubes and some water to actually keep the cool side of the tile (inside of the hollow flashlight) cooled.

    First thing I'd say she needs is a mirrored surface inside the torch. It's not really a torch as is, just a couple of shining LED's.

    I never knew that peltier tiles existed before reading this article. I now find myself thinking of scenarios where cold meets warm (and where micro-generation would be useful. My trouser pocket in cold weather: a Peltier tile could provide a little power to my phone. The hood of my car (although I suspect the weight of the tiles would require more energy to move than they would produce). How about putting these on kids' backpacks so that they light up when worn on cold evenings?
    I'm glad there's kids this environmentally aware and with a good education in science and engineering.

    Hi Ann Makosinski,
    I was delighted to come across your invention. All credit to you for thinking outside the box and all the best to you and your curious mind. Keep on questioning!


      We made it 9 posts this time...

    how many lumens is it capable of though? could end up being pointless.

    I don't know about the rest of you but porn and masterbation was all the rage when I was 15. Too bad it didn't help me earn any rewards though. No prizes for fapping the longest unfortunately :-(

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