Liquid metal flow can also generate electricity

Japanese researchers recently reported in the online edition of the British journal Nature Physics that allowing liquid metal to flow through small pipes can also produce weak electricity. This discovery will help realize the miniaturization of power generation devices.

Researchers at Tohoku University in Japan let liquid metals such as mercury or neodymium alloys flow through quartz-made, 0.4-mm-diameter thin tubes at a rate of 2 meters per second, resulting in 10 millionths of a volt. The amount of electricity generated is proportional to the speed of the flow.

The researchers explained that when the liquid metal flows through the thin tube, due to friction, the flow rate of the liquid metal near the tube wall is slower than in the middle part, and it is this flow rate difference that generates vortices. The strength of the vortex is greatest at the point where the inner wall of the thin tube is located, and gradually weakens from the inner wall to the center of the thin tube. The spin motion of the electrons in the liquid metal is affected by this, and it will flow from where the eddy motion is strong to where the eddy motion is weak, that is, from the inner wall of the thin tube to the center of the thin tube, forming a spin current.

The researchers pointed out that this new method of power generation completely eliminates the turbine structure of the generator and helps to achieve ultra-miniaturization of the power generator. In the future, it may be possible to generate electricity using the power of a push button after installing such a power generation device on a remote controller for household electrical appliances, thereby eliminating the need for a battery. (Reporter Lan Jianzhong)

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