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A Teenager Invented a Body Heat Powered Flashlight

Makosinski and the flashlight
A 15-year-old girl from Victoria, Canada designed a unique flashlight that does not require any battery and is powered solely by the heat of the user’s hand.
Ann Makosinski, a Grade 10 student at St. Michaels University School in Victoria created a hollow flashlight powered by the heat coming from a user’s hand. Makosinski was picked for the finals of the Google Science Fair. On the way she was able to beat thousands of other kids from more than 100 countries to earn her place in the finales.
Makosinski has been extremely interested in alternative energy since a very young age. Over the past few years she looked into several types of alternative energy until she learned about a type of device known as Peltier. These type of devices can produce energy when there is a temperature differential (one side cold and the other warm or the other way around).
Makosinski experimented with Peltier tiles for an earlier project she had done and thought of them again as a way to harvest energy produced by the body for the current project. After doing some calculations she discovered that the Peltier tiles could easily produce enough power to turn on a LED light for a flashlight.
Developing the flashlight itself proved much more difficult. Makosinski purchased tiles on eBay and wanted to see if they could produce enough power to power a LED light for the flashlight. As it happens, there was enough power but nowhere near enough voltage.  Makosinski had to change the design of her circuit in order to make enough voltage. the process was complicated and included months of trial and error. Eventually she came across an article about energy harvesting that suggested a low cost circuit and transformer that would provide the voltage needed.
Maybe the most impressive of all is the fact that  Makosinski had done almost everything on her own. None of her parents have more than basic science education and her father mostly encouraged her to pressure the project, helped her with some of the basic electronics and ordered the flashlight parts online – the rest of the work was done entirely by the young Makosinski.
Makosinski does mention that the flashlight will perform best when the temperature is low so that the difference between the user’s hand and surrounding will be the greatest (good for cold nights outside).
Check out the following video where Makosinski is showing the flashlight in action