Heat Harvest : Effortless use of wasted energy

In the future, we will be paying more importance in living a sustainable, environmentally friendly life. Efficiency of electrical products in terms of their use of energy will continue to rise. People will expect to have access to tools that not only solve their problems but also do so with no harm to the environment.

Heat Harvest is a device that cuts on our negative impact on the environment. It captures wasted heat from our everyday objects and turns it into electricity that can be then reused. Heat Harvest can be made into a stand-alone product or be integrated into household items – an example is a table.

We don’t think much about the excess heat our homes produce, even though there is so much of it. Everything from our cookware and teapots to computers and game consoles can get very hot to the touch, but we just let the heat dissipate into the air. This is a terrible waste because the heat is actually energy that can be reused in our homes, bringing down our energy bills along with our impact on the planet.

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ3B68rxkf4

Heat Harvest uses thermoelectricity to do the heat to electricity conversion. It exploits basic physics, putting to use the fact that temperature differences between two surfaces can generate electricity. Recent developments in nanotechnology have made the conversion of heat to electricity more efficient than ever.

Design Process:
The brief that was given by the design studio Art Rebels was that of looking into the future and identifying how Fresh Living could be interpreted and represented there. One of the goals was to make the outcome of this design work be considered as part of the IKEA catalogue around the year 2035.

We began with guerrilla-style research on the streets of Copenhagen. We talked with random people and asked them about what “Fresh Living” means to them and about their prediction on how the future would evolve in terms of people’s needs and societal changes.

Next task was to analyse the feedback and settle on our keywords for IKEA and Fresh Living to guide us through the ideation step. IKEA for us meant “Minimalistic”, “Affordable”, “Home”. Fresh Living was inspired by our interviewees to contain “Energy”, “Environment”, and “New ways of thinking”. In our interviews we heard many people saying that future will bring us more sustainable life with better care for the environment around us. When we were ideating around our design concepts, we saw that one of them, harvesting wasted heat, matches that expectation very well.

We then chose to further evolve this concept through our desk research and additional interviews. As non-engineers who at first had doubts about the technical feasibility of our concept, we were happy to come upon the notion of thermoelectricity. We found lots of evidence of successful attempts at converting heat to electricity, many quite recent prototypes that shared many things with our idea.

The final deliverable was set to be an experience prototype which would ignite the discussion around the concept of small-to-medium scale heat to electricity conversion and would also incorporate the design of IKEA products.