by , 06/06/07

turning sound into electricity, university of utah, sound power, heat to sound to electricity, heat to electricity, Orest Symko, physics, Bonnie McLaughlin, Nick Webb, Brenna Gillman, Ivan Rodriguez, Myra Flitcroft, protorype, energy, alternative power

Could Rock and Roll power your house? Well, not quite, however good old-fashioned sound just might do the trick thanks to the work by University of Utah Physicist Orest Symko and his students who have developed a way to turn excess heat into sound and electricity. If it sounds too good to be true, well then you might be surprised to hear that it actually works!

It works via a very simple and well known process. If you take a source of heat and apply to any enclosed area, the air inside it will expand increasing the pressure inside. This pressurized air will then move through a filter or opening on one side, producing a simple clear sound at a standard frequency. That’s the key to the system. The more focused and directed the frequency is, the easier it is to extract energy from (which explains why rock and roll wouldn’t power your home, though it made for a nice intro). The sound waves then pass through “piezoelectric” devices which transform the sound into electricity when squeezed by sound.

Can this technology be used to actually power your home? At this point it is difficult to say. But it does have some practical uses. Take for instance your laptop, desktop, or television screen. It could be possible to install these devices to them and recuperate some of the heat lost back into electricity which can be fed back into your battery.

Here’s hoping that Dr. and his students, Bonnie McLaughlin, Nick Webb, Brenna Gillman, Ivan Rodriguez, Myra Flitcroft can turn this very interesting technology into a usable product.

+ University of Utah press release
+ Center for Acoustic cooling technology

Related Posts


or your inhabitat account below


  1. apoorvaa August 20, 2011 at 10:50 am

    what if piezoelectric materials are used in discos and pubs…..the noise produced there will generate electricity……that will light the pubs and discos.

  2. MrGofla February 16, 2011 at 3:13 am

    Imagine taking this technology to a Soccer match in south Africa all the mise coming from Vuvuzela should be able to power the stadium for the duration of the game :-).

    What about fitting this device at the engine compartment of a car, there is lots of noise and heat to be tapped.
    Good luck with the project

  3. b33j0r June 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    The ultimate boon of this project would be to collect waste heat from inevitably inefficient projects: landfill decomposition; parking lots; maybe even dutch ovens!

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics doesn’t imply that you can’t capture waste heat–just that you can never capture all of it.

  4. kuntry February 14, 2010 at 8:27 am

    electricity from heat via sound is an excellent idea . but it would be better if anyone gives howmuch can power can we save from it . i practically did some calculations ……..a sound of some 150db in an tube of .6m length and 4cm diameter can produce 100 watts of power . can anyone suggest how to captilise it . i am concentrating on heat released during braking system and silencer of vehicles.

  5. kishore kumar August 12, 2009 at 12:20 am

    this site is very exiting

  6. Mekhong Kurt March 4, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    On a light note, I live in Asia, where the idea of a “quiet conversation” is people shrieking at each other — simultaneously!

    Heck, China and India could cut their oil use dramatically if they just harnessed the power of the people!

  7. lolyearight July 17, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    Unfortunately, for things like laptops the waste heat produced is harmful to the system and must be gotten rid of. Since *anything* you do to turn that heat into energy is going to slow down the rate of heat loss, you’d be going after mutually exclusive goals.

  8. energ8t July 16, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    Yes, it is cool that energy can be converted (Everything is energy, vice versa). Sound is not an energy source, just a medium- a method of recycling as stated in comments. Recycling is only necessary if the system/product is wasting a lot of energy through heat/noise etc. It is far more productive to make systems/products more efficient. It is better to not allow the system to waste energy in the first place- i.e. LCD vs OLED display, LED vs CFL bulbs. You can also harness waste EM pollution (microwaves, radio, tv, etc.) and transform that into useable electricity. See: piezo electricity, thermoelectricy. Although this is interesting, if you want to see some interesting looks into energy sources,methods of transmission and uses, Google this:
    Salt water into fire (Google Video)
    Meyl Scalar Wave (Google Video)
    acoustic levitation (Google Video)

  9. Kin li-chung June 8, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    you COULD hook this up to current solar heating cells and take advantage of the better? rate of electrical conversion of the piezoelectric generators as compared the the dismal performance of silicon based PV cells. like instead of putting it on your TV, the heat could be from excess heating from say your thermostat or your solar heater. Would make a more reliable source of energy than say, a TV.

  10. Nick Simpson June 8, 2007 at 6:23 am

    In regard to this being a waste of time, the impression I get from this article is that it works on “waste” heat – so surely could provide a way of improving efficiencies. In which case it’s an entirely plausible piece of research…

  11. Chris June 6, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    This seems like it would blend very well with other technologies to produce a small device that can generate heat and/or power. There are already devices that generate both heat and electricity on a small scale (backpack-size) by burning natural gas inside a chamber lined with pv collectors. The suggested application for those devices is to provide power and heat to portable shelters. By adding this heat->sound->energy device, you could generate more electricity when less heat is needed to heat the structure.

    I wonder if it there would be a noise pollution issue… It the sound audible to humans or animals? Does some of it leak? If you try to dampen the noise, does it reduce the efficiency of the device?

  12. Jed June 6, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    I took a class from this guy back in ’99. It was called “Physics of Hi-Fi.” Essentially a way to sucker kids like me into taking physics. He’s a cool dude, and he mentioned this research. I’m glad to see that he’s getting somewhere with it.

  13. Todd June 6, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Sounds like putting a Band-Aid on a stab wound. Solar, wind and hydro technologies already exist – why not work further on those technologies to make them more affordable and accessable to those who want or “need” them.
    30-40 US dollars for a stove is still a huge amount for someone living at a subsistance level.
    Example, teach this target market how to build their own windmills from materials within their local biosphere and you establish generational education, a skilled local labor force, and a more stable subsitance with less reliance on money.
    Making ice from wood doesn’t seem like a profitable venture.

  14. wanderindiana June 6, 2007 at 11:06 am

    I was just reading an article from a week or so ago (follow the link on my name) about a wood-burning stove that generates electricity via sound waves – technology advanced in the UK for use in third world countries. They hope to have these stoves selling for $30-40 in a few years.

    It’s encouraging to read that the technology is being developed independently in another location.

  15. Free Thinker June 6, 2007 at 9:33 am

    This is a fascinating find. I wonder if this could apply to EV batteries to extend the travel distances on a single charge. It might serve the toasty lithium-ion cells, well.

    …and, yes, that did make for a catchy intro.

  • Read Inhabitat

  • Search Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Browse by Keyword

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home