Alphabet Energy featured on National Georgraphic: “Tapping into the Electric Power of Heat”

By on in Alphabet In The News, General

Alphabet Energy was featured on National Geographic Daily News for tapping into the electrical power of heat.

The basic idea behind waste-heat recovery systems is getting more work out of our fuel.

“By providing a thermoelectric chip that can be inserted into any exhaust flue or engine to convert heat into electrical power, Alphabet hopes to become the “Intel of waste heat,” said Matt Scullin, the company’s chief executive and co-founder.

 

A thermoelectric device is simply a device that can make use of heat to generate power with no moving parts (just as a solar cell generates electricity from light.) It is based on the long-known principle that electrons can be pushed through a material by heat. Alphabet says its innovation is in both the choice of material and proprietary technology that gives it low thermal conductivity, and makes it highly suitable for both scale and miniaturization—for use in small devices as well as in large factory flues. The device is connected by wire to the plant’s electrical system or to the grid, so it feeds in power converted by heat in real time.” Josie Garthwaite

Cogeneration (also called combined heat and power) systems, have been around for more than a century and can generate electricity or mechanical power and useful heat at a facility that requires thermal energy, or convert waste energy on-site into mechanical and electrical energy. In 2008, studies showed that the U.S. greatly trails behind Europe and other developed countries in energy efficiency.  One reason is that the country hasn’t tapped in to the power from waste heat, and regulators generally do not allow utilities to capitalize from efficiency gains, they are instead required to pass the savings along to rate-payers.  This leaves them with little incentive to invest.

Alphabet Energy is working to achieve breakthroughs in the waste-heat industry despite regulatory barriers. Co-Founder and Chief Officer Matthew Scullin notes that waste heat is one of few power sources that the U.S. government does not subsidize.

“The Tonko bill, co-sponsored by Democratic Representatives Jay Inslee of Washington and Shelly Berkley of Nevada and Texas Republican Ron Paul, could change that. Casten, of Recycled Energy Development, said that would be an important step toward spurring waste heat technology adoption and innovation. “There are 95 proven ways to recycle energy. Open the door for them,” by removing regulatory barriers and leveling the energy playing field, he said, “and venture capitalists would support 15 more Alphabet Energies.” Josie Garthwaite

An enormous amount of heat is lost when a 3,000ºF (1,650ºC) furnace melts quartz rock to extract silicon at this West Virginia Alloys plant near Charleston, but a Recycled Energy Development system aims to capture that heat to generate electricity. More ideas for converting heat to power are on the horizon. (Photograph by Laura Antrim Caskey)
An enormous amount of heat is lost when a 3,000ºF (1,650ºC) furnace melts quartz rock to extract silicon at this West Virginia Alloys plant near Charleston, but a Recycled Energy Development system aims to capture that heat to generate electricity. More ideas for converting heat to power are on the horizon. (Photograph by Laura Antrim Caskey)

View the original article here: Tapping into the Electric Power of Heat.