Harvesting renewable energy from Earth's mid-infrared emissions


STEVEN J. BYRNES, Romain Blanchard, and Federico Capasso. 2014. “Harvesting renewable energy from Earth's mid-infrared emissions.” PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 111, 11, Pp. 3927-3932. Publisher's Version


It is possible to harvest energy from Earth's thermal infrared emission into outer space. We calculate the thermodynamic limit for the amount of power available, and as a case study, we plot how this limit varies daily and seasonally in a location in Oklahoma. We discuss two possible ways to make such an emissive energy harvester (EEH): A thermal EEH (analogous to solar thermal power generation) and an optoelectronic EEH (analogous to photovoltaic power generation). For the latter, we propose using an infrared-frequency rectifying antenna, and we discuss its operating principles, efficiency limits, system design considerations, and possible technological implementations.
Last updated on 05/24/2020