Heat is an end product of almost every industrial process. While technology that converts waste heat into electricity already exists, there is none that capture low-temperature heat. In fact, statistics show that in the U.S., nearly 30% energy is lost as waste heat. And more importantly, nearly 60% of this is low-temperature heat.
RedWave Energy, a company in its nascent stages, in association with Idaho National Laboratory under the U.S. Department of Energy, has the solution. The company has developed a thin flexible film that captures that captures heat between 70 and 250 Celsius. It is important to note that the current technologies are able to capture only heat above 300 Celsius.
A Power Plant will Save 112,000 tons of Coal
A sheet of this film consists square, gold rectennas placed in polyethylene, thus making it flexible. To capture shorter wavelengths, the sheet will need smaller rectennas. These tiny antennas capture the infrared light and induce a cyclic plasma movement of electrons. As a result, this helps feed the current into the antenna feedpoint. Here a nano diode helps rectify the flow of current. Results show that the films improve the efficiency of waste heat conversion 20-30%. Consequently, a thermal power plant may save 112,000 tons of coal.
Patrick Brady, founder and CTO of RedWave Energy, says that the most important aspect of this film is its flexibility. This makes is usable across different sectors. The films can be integrated into existing as well as new power plants. Not just that, they can also be used to produce electricity directly. That is, they may help improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cells that capture high-temperature heat.