Waste heat from industrial facilities and automobile exhaust can be turned into waste. The United States is developing a conversion system based on silicon nanowires that can convert waste heat into electricity at low cost and with high efficiency.
The project is funded by the California State Energy Commission. Such a thermoelectric conversion system is expected to save 320 megawatts of electricity per year for California, saving $380 million in expenditure.
Thermoelectric materials can recover waste heat from heat sources such as engines and furnaces, and can be converted to electricity without increasing greenhouse gas emissions. However, most of the existing thermoelectric materials have limitations, such as high cost, low thermoelectric conversion efficiency (less than 5%), and no reliable operation in environments exceeding 400 degrees Celsius.
Ravi Plathl, who led the development of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the United States, pointed out that due to the lack of suitable conversion technology, the potential for converting California's industrial waste heat into electricity has not yet been utilized on a large scale. The biggest challenge for thermoelectric conversion technology is to find stable, reliable, cost-effective thermoelectric materials that can operate at high temperatures.
Researchers are trying to make silicon nanowires into thermoelectric materials in a low-cost way. This material can achieve thermoelectric conversion efficiency of more than 10% and operates at temperatures above 800 degrees Celsius. Researchers will build conversion system prototypes to verify thermoelectric conversion efficiency in high temperature environments.
The researchers said that the improvement of conversion efficiency will help develop more market opportunities for waste heat power generation. For example, the thermoelectric conversion system can improve remote power generation technology and output power to areas where there is no grid or reliable solar energy. Higher operating ambient temperatures also create new possibilities. For example, high-temperature waste heat from natural gas combustion can also generate electricity.
Plashl said that their goal is to make the new thermoelectric conversion system with minimal additional losses, smaller and more compact, with a modular design that facilitates large-scale distributed applications, with virtually no maintenance costs and operators for many years Stable power generation. (Reporter Ma Dan)
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