Mechanical engineers at the University of California, Riverside, have successfully used inexpensive materials to produce thermoelectric devices that transform low-level waste heat into electricity. While thermoelectric generators have been highly dependable—for example powering space probes such as the Voyager spacecraft for decades—their use has been limited by the expense and... Read more →


DOE to award $35M to 24 projects to support early-stage, innovative technologies and solutions in advanced manufacturing

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $35 million for 24 projects to support early-stage, innovative technologies and solutions in advanced manufacturing. These projects were selected under an Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Advanced Manufacturing Office funding opportunity, focused on advanced materials, advanced processes, and... Read more →


MIT researchers have discovered a way to increase the efficiency of thermoelectric materials threefold by using “topological” materials, which have unique electronic properties. While past work has suggested that topological materials may serve as efficient thermoelectric systems, there has been little understanding as to how electrons in such topological materials... Read more →


ElectraTherm and Navy to demonstrate shipboard waste heat recovery

ElectraTherm, a leader in distributed, waste heat to power generation, is working with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Creare, and the US Naval Academy (USNA) to demonstrate gas turbine waste heat recovery as part of a Small Business Innovation Research project. The demonstration will take place at the USNA... Read more →


Stena Line seeking novel approaches to recover energy from exhaust gases from ship engines

Stena Line is seeking novel, cost-effective approaches to recover energy from exhaust gases from ship engines and to transform it into a more useful energy form (e.g., electricity to supply hotel loads on board the ship). Stena Line said that it is especially interested in industrial-scale applications of thermoelectric generators... Read more →


Researchers in China have developed a novel free-piston linear generator (FPLG) to recover exhaust waste heat efficiently from a vehicle engine. The FPLG can be used in a small-scale organic Rankine cycle (ORC) system and can directly convert the thermodynamic energy of working fluid into electricity. In a paper published... Read more →


MAHLE acquires thermoelectric generator start-up O-Flexx

The MAHLE Group is expanding its expertise in the field of thermoelectrics by acquiring the start-up O-Flexx Technologies. O-Flexx specializes in thermoelectric generators; its R&D center and production facilities for both low- and high-temperature modules are based in Duisburg, Germany. The purchase price will not be disclosed. O-Flexx Technologies offers... Read more →


Japan researchers successfully synthesize new lightweight thermoelectric material

Researchers at the Materials Function Control Laboratory at the Toyohashi University of Technology and the Nagoya Institute of Technology have successfully synthesized a new thermoelectric material, CaMgSi, an intermetallic compound. The key to this development was the synthesis procedure; bulk CaMgSi intermetallic compound was synthesized by combining mechanical ball-milling (MM)... Read more →


The Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a request for information (DE-FOA-0001607) on lower-grade waste heat recovery technologies. Consistent with the agency’s mission, ARPA-E is seeking clearly disruptive, novel technologies, early in their R&D cycle, and not integration strategies for existing technologies. In 2015, 59.2 quadrillion BTU... Read more →


Researchers at the University of Manchester (UK) have developed a graphene-based nano-rectifier (“ballistic rectifier”) that can convert waste heat to electricity. The nano-rectifier was built by a team led by Professor Aimin Song and Dr. Ernie Hill, in collaboration with a team at Shandong University (China). The device exploits graphene’s... Read more →


NEC Corporation, NEC TOKIN Corporation and TOHOKU UNIVERSITY have jointly created a thermoelectric (TE) device using the spin Seebeck effect (SSE) with conversion efficiency 10 times higher than a test module that was produced based on a multi-layered SSE technology published by the Tohoku University group in 2015. The spin-Seebeck... Read more →


ORCnext project concludes waste heat recovery efficiency can be boosted by 20-25%

The four-year projet ORCNext, aimed at developing knowledge and design tools for next generation of Organic Rankine Cycles (ORCs), has concluded that waste heat recovery efficiency can be increased by 20 to 25% through appropriate cycle selection, efficient expanders, appropriate control and less oversizing of the heat exchangers. The project,... Read more →


Alphabet Energy is commercializing low-cost, efficient thermoelectric materials for power generation leveraging technology initially developed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (Earlier post.) The company has now announced characterization from the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM of heat flow and thermal resistance (in air) of the Alphabet Energy... Read more →


Manchester team greatly broadens thermal window of thermoelectric material using graphene; potential vehicle applications for waste heat recovery

Researchers at the University of Manchester (UK) have shown that the thermal operating window of the thermoelectric material lanthanum strontium titanium oxide (LSTO) can be expanded down to room temperature by addition of a small amount of graphene. Applications of LSTO-based thermoelectric materials are currently limited by their high operating... Read more →


Alphabet Energy introduces PowerModules for modular thermoelectric waste heat recovery; partnership with Borla for heavy-duty trucks

Alphabet Energy, founded in 2009 at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, announced the availability of its thermoelectric generator PowerModule as a standalone product, available to meet the specific application needs of a range of industries, including transportation. The company also announced it will partner with Borla jointly to develop and to... Read more →


Free piston/ORC system for automotive waste heat recovery being tested at University of Brighton

A prototype automotive waste heat recovery system has been fired up on a recently commissioned test rig at the University of Brighton. The organic Rankine cycle test rig uses a novel linear free piston expander from Libertine (earlier post) to overcome the technical and economic barriers to using Rankine cycle... Read more →


Evident Thermoelectrics acquires GMZ Energy

In a major expansion move, Evident Thermoelectrics has purchased the assets of GMZ Energy, Inc. a developer of high temperature thermoelectric generation (TEG) systems, in an acquisition that includes all patents, equipment, product lines, website, customer contacts and brand. In December 2014, GMZ had successfully demonstrated a 1kW TEG designed... Read more →


Researchers at MIT are predicting that predict that suitable chemical functionalization of graphene can result in a large enhancement in the Seebeck coefficient for thermoelectric materials, leading to an increase in the room-temperature power factor of a factor of 2 compared to pristine graphene, despite degraded electrical conductivity. Furthermore, the... Read more →


Renault Trucks Optifuel Lab 2 vehicle results: reduction in fuel consumption by 22% compared to conventional truck

Following several months of road trials and test bench programs adding up to the equivalent of 20,000 km (12,427 miles), Renault Trucks Optifuel Lab 2 laboratory vehicle (earlier post) is recording fuel consumption 22% lower than that of a production Renault Trucks T. This means 7.2 liters of diesel are... Read more →


Researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) are proposing that it is possible to design an efficient graphene-cathode-based thermionic energy converter (TIC)—a device for converting heat to electricity leveraging the phenomenon of thermionic emission, or the release of electrons from a hot body—operating at around 900 K... Read more →


Researchers at Penn State University have demonstrated the efficient conversion of low-grade thermal energy into electrical power using a thermally regenerative ammonia-based battery (TRAB). A paper on their work is published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science. The battery uses copper-based redox couples [Cu(NH3)42+/Cu and Cu(II)/Cu]. Ammonia addition... Read more →


GMZ Energy, a market leader in the development of high-temperature thermoelectric generation (TEG) solutions, has successfully demonstrated a 1,000W TEG designed for diesel engine exhaust heat recapture in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. (Earlier post.) This announcement follows GMZ’s June 2014 demonstration of its 200W diesel TEG. The company integrated five... Read more →


A team of researchers from Vanderbilt University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has discovered an entirely new form of crystalline order that simultaneously exhibits both crystal and polycrystalline properties, which they describe as “interlaced crystals.” The interlaced crystal arrangement has properties that could make it ideal for thermoelectric applications.... Read more →


GMZ Energy develops new thermoelectric material with lower raw material costs, higher power output; Hafnium-free p-type half-Heusler

Researchers at GMZ Energy, a provider of nano-structured thermoelectric generation (TEG) power solutions for mobile and stationary waste-heat recovery (earlier post), with their colleagues at the University of Houston and Bosch, have developed a new Hafnium-free p-type half-Heusler material which offers substantially lower raw material cost than conventional half-Heusler materials.... Read more →


In May, researchers at MIT and Stanford University reported the development of new battery technology for the conversion of low-temperature waste heat into electricity in cases where temperature differences are less than 100 ˚Celsius. The thermally regenerative electrochemical cycle (TREC) uses the dependence of electrode potential on temperature to construct... Read more →


TG16. Click to enlarge. GMZ Energy, a developer of high temperature thermoelectric generation (TEG) solutions, has introduced the TG16-1.0, a new thermoelectric module capable of producing twice the power of the company’s first product, the TG8-1.0. By doubling the power density, GMZ’s new module substantially increases performance while maintaining a... Read more →


Renault Trucks’ heavy-duty Optifuel Lab 2 laboratory vehicle brings together various technologies designed to reduce fuel consumption in heavy-duty trucks and to prepare the way for future production models. Renault Trucks will display a scale model of Optifuel Lab 2 at the upcoming IAA. The vehicle is currently on the... Read more →


Researchers at MIT and Stanford University have developed new battery technology for the conversion of low-temperature waste heat into electricity in cases where temperature differences are less than 100 degrees Celsius. Their approach is based on a phenomenon called the thermogalvanic effect—the dependence of electrode potential on temperature—and is described... Read more →


Dearman-led consortium awarded $3.1M to develop waste-heat-recovery system using liquid air engine

A consortium led by the Dearman Engine Company has been awarded £1.86 million (US$3.12 million) in the latest round of IDP10 funding from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board to support the development of a heat-recovery system for urban commercial vehicles. The tenth competition under the Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform’s... Read more →


HeatReCar project demonstrates technical feasibility of thermoelectric generator for waste heat recovery; economic case more difficult

A recently completed European project coordinated by Centro Ricerche Fiat (CRF) demonstrated the technical feasibility of a Bi2Te3-based thermoelectric generator (TEG) for waste heat recovery for application to a diesel light-duty truck (LDT). The project “Reduced energy consumption by massive thermoelectric waste heat recovery in light-duty trucks” (HeatReCar) focused on... Read more →


The concept of the Ricardo Split-Cycle engine. The recuperated engine uses isothermal compression via cryogenic injection to enable significant exhaust to compressed gas heat transfer. Source: Neville Jackson. Click to enlarge. Ricardo is advancing its work with two novel technologies to improve the efficiency of heavy-duty goods vehicles: a cryogenic... Read more →


A simple Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) waste heat recovery system could recover up to 10% of engine waste heat under highway driving conditions, corresponding to a potential 7% improvement in fuel consumption in a light-duty plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), with low penalization of the added weight to the vehicle... Read more →


Stack-designed cylindrical TEG, built with TE cartridges, developed for LDVs in first project. Click to enlarge. The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Gentherm (formerly Amerigon) a $1.55-million contract modification to apply the technology in its thermoelectric generator (TEG) for passenger cars to a similar program for heavy vehicles.... Read more →


The MV Figaro. Click to enlarge. Opcon, in collaboration with Wallenius Marine, recently completed the first reference installation of its Waste Heat Recovery technology for ocean-going vessels in a project supported by the Swedish Energy Agency. (Earlier post.) The company has now received official approval from Lloyd’s Register for use... Read more →


Schematic representation of the 4-step low-temperature, Mn-based thermochemical cycle. Xu et al. Click to enlarge. Providing a possible new route to hydrogen-gas production, researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have devised a new manganese-based thermochemical cycle with a highest operating temperature of 850 °C that is completely recyclable and... Read more →


Ford study shows Rankine waste heat recovery system on a light-duty vehicle could almost meet full vehicle accessory load on highway cycle

An organic Rankine cycle (ORC) waste heat recovery system using R245fa as the working fluid could nearly supply the full vehicle accessory electrical load in a light duty vehicle (Ford Escape) on the EPA highway cycle in both a conventional and hybrid powertrain configuration, according to a modeling study presented... Read more →


DOE ARPA-E awards $156M to projects to 60 projects to accelerate innovation in clean energy technologies

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has selected 60 research projects for up to a combined $156 million in funding from the Fiscal Year 2011 budget. The new ARPA-E selections focus on accelerating innovations in clean technology while increasing US competitiveness in rare earth alternatives and breakthroughs... Read more →


Research project Turbosteamer, Generation 2. Click to enlarge. Despite improvements in engine efficiency—e.g., with technologies such as direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, exhaust-driven turbochargers, brake energy regeneration and Auto Start Stop function—about 60% of the generated energy is still lost, half of it being exhaust heat, with the remaining... Read more →


Ricardo and QinetiQ to evaluate novel diesel fuel reforming system using microwaves and waste heat

Ricardo will lead a feasibility study project—HeatWave—in which it will work with QinetiQ to evaluate a novel diesel fuel reformation concept that uses microwaves and waste heat from a heavy vehicle’s exhaust to reform the incoming fuel, increasing its calorific value and hence reducing net carbon dioxide emissions. HeatWave will... Read more →


Rendering of the Triple-E. Click to enlarge. Mærsk Line has signed a contract with Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd. to build 10 of the world’s largest and most efficient vessels—the Triple E (Economy of scale, Energy efficient and Environmentally improved)—with an option for an additional 20 vessels.... Read more →


Two separate research collaborations have recently reported advances in the efficiency of thermoelectric materials in converting heat to electricity. A collaboration including researchers from Boston College, MIT, the University of Virginia and Clemson University have achieved a peak ZT (thermoelectric figure of merit) of 0.8 at 700 °C (973 K),... Read more →


Example of the structure of a partially filled CoSb skutterudite. Source: C. Uher. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the University of Michigan and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology are working to improve the thermoelectric (TE) capabilities of filled skutterudites to the point that they could improve the performance... Read more →


Researchers Exploring On-Board Exhaust Gas Reforming to Improve Combustion and Recover Waste Heat

Professor Stan Golunski, Deputy Director of the newly established Cardiff Catalysis Institute, in collaboration with engineers at Brunel and Birmingham Universities, is investigating the feasibility of an on-board exhaust gas reforming system to improve combustion and recover waste heat. In the exhaust gas fuel-reforming method, part of the engine exhaust... Read more →


The VanDyne SuperTurbo. Click to enlarge. The US Army SBIR Program has competitively selected and awarded a Phase 1 research contract to VanDyne SuperTurbo, Inc. for a project developing a waste heat recovery system using VanDyne’s SuperTurbocharger technology. VanDyne’s SuperTurbocharger (SuperTurbo) is a turbocharger with an integral Continuously Variable Transmission... Read more →


The MHI STG system. Click to enlarge. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has completed its first unit of the STG (Super Turbo Generating) System, a marine-use, high-efficiency, combined power generation system that utilizes waste heat and the exhaust gas from diesel engines. The STG System reduces the fuel cost of... Read more →


Basic operation of the Opcon Powerbox ORC waste heat recovery system. Click to enlarge. Opcon, the Sweden-based energy and environmental technology Group, will install an Opcon Powerbox—an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) waste heat recovery system—on one of Wallenius’ ships. The initial installation, which aims to utilize waste heat for production... Read more →


Six key elements of a thermoelectric waste heat recovery module for vehicle applications. Successful proposals will address at least three. Click to enlarge. The Directorate for Engineering at the National Science Foundation in partnership with the US Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Program has issued a solicitation for proposals for... Read more →


Schematic of a thermocell with nanostructured electrodes showing concentration gradients of the ferri-ferrocyanide redox ions during power generation. Credit: ACS, Hu et al. Click to enlarge. An international team of researchers from the US, India and Australia has demonstrated thermo-electrochemical cells (thermocells) in practical configurations (from coin cells to cells... Read more →


Schematic of the conceptual ideal piston engine used for the TCR study. The outer control volume (CV0) encloses the entire system. The upper inner control volume (CV1) contains the combustion chamber and piston. The lower inner control volume (CV2) contains the reformer and intercooler. When reforming is not used, the... Read more →


Basic scheme of the quantum-coupled converter. Shaded boxes indicate electron reservoirs. Arrows represent couplings. Letter U represents the electrostatic interaction while letter V represents the tunneling. Source: Hagelstein, 2007. Click to enlarge. Researchers from MIT, with colleagues from IISc in Bangalore, India and HiPi Consulting in Maryland have experimentally demonstrated... Read more →