Alphabet Energy, the San Francisco-based start-up company is on a quest to recycle waste heat to produce clean energy. The company plans to harness the waste heat emitted by power plants, industrial furnaces, and cars to provide inexpensive electricity to the US grid. In order to accomplish its goal of to convert waste heat into electric and thermal power, the company has recently developed a thermoelectric chip, which when inserted into exhaust flues, engines, or other heat-producing devices converts the waste heat into electricity.
This unique device is made from novel material, which is a relatively abundant, low-cost material, making clean energy production cheaper. Alphabet Energy took help from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to lower its thermal conductivity and increase its electricity output using a smaller amount of heat. This thermoelectric chip is produced using similar methods used for producing the microchips used in electronic devices, so the production cost is expected to lower even further.
Alphabet Energy is preparing to undertake a pilot test at an industrial facility by next year. With such great improvement in technology, it is expected that the system’s installation cost could be lowered to less than half of the present systems, costing under $1 per watt. The company claims that its new technology will be able to offset more than 500 million tonnes of carbon annually.