Apple is talking to small development company Eneco, which has developed a chip that converts heat into electricity.

The chip can also refrigerate when electricty is applied to it, reducing local temperatures.

The news - revealed on Green Business News - was announced last week by Eneco president and CEO Dr Lew Brown.

Brown believes the chip will revolutionise electricity generation, comparing it to the invention of the transistor.

"Eneco is a development-stage company that claims to have invented and patented a 'solid state energy conversion/generation chip' that will convert heat directly into electricity or alternatively refrigerate down to -200 degrees celsius when electricity is applied," the report explains.

The chip uses principles of thermionic energy conversion, which works on the principle that electrons can be bounced between a hot metal plate to a cold metal plate, creating electricity as they go.

Eneco claims its chip's energy density is five-times better than current lithium-ion batteries and up to four-times better than future micro fuel-cell capabilities projected to ship by 2010.

The company is looking to the space, military and portable device markets as potential partners to bring the chip to market.

Initial talks with Apple (and with Dell) have looked at using the technology as part of futuristic cooling systems for computers and portable devices.

However, the report does point to a "lack of clarity" on some design matters, so it is unlikely that products wielding the technology will ship soon.

Nonetheless, Eneco has already undertaken contracts for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the US Navy, and the National Science Foundation with support from US Magnesium.