Turning waste heat into electricity
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a small Utah company, Eneco Inc., say they have developed a technology that can efficiently and inexpensively transform waste heat into electricity. The researchers say their device is in a primitive stage at present, but a cheap and practical device could be ready for the market in two years. While the heat generated by car engines and power plants usually does nothing but warm the surrounding air, scientists have long dreamed of building so-called thermoelectric devices that can capture wasted heat and convert part of it into electric power.
Such devices could significantly increase the electrical output of existing power plants or power the electrical systems of automobiles replacing alternators and increasing fuel efficiency.
While current thermoelectric technology converts only about 10 percent of the heat it absorbs into electricity, the new device raises that to 17 percent.
The laws of physics dictate a maximum of about 50 percent and the researchers think future devices might achieve more than half the maximum.
Source: Kenneth Chang, A Practical Way to Make Power from Wasted Heat, New York Times, November 27, 2001.
For text http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/27/technology/27HEAT.html?searchpv=nytToday
For more on Alternative Energy http://www.ncpa.org/iss/ene/
FMF Policy Bulletin\4 December 2001
Publish date: 11 December 2001
The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.