Researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed a new alloy that is able to convert heat directly into electricity.

The alloy, created by combining nickel, cobalt, manganese and tin at the atomic level, is a multiferroic materials. These matertials have unique elastic, magnetic and electric properties. When heated, this particlular alloy suddenly changes from non-magnetic to strongly magnetic.

In lab tests, the material was able to absorb heat from the environment, become magnetic and produce electricity in an attached coil.

Professor Richard James, who led the research team, said that "This research is very promising because it presents an entirely new method for energy conversion that’s never been done before. It’s also the ultimate ‘green’ way to create electricity because it uses waste heat to create electricity with no carbon dioxide."