Friday, March 21, 2008

Start-up wins funding to draw electricity from 'waste' heat

Start-up wins funding to draw electricity from 'waste' heat: The CEO of GMZ Energy, Mike Clary, told VentureBeat that the company has received seed funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and described the Newton, Mass.-based start-up's plans....Researchers at Boston College and the Massachusetts Institute of technology have found a way to more efficiently convert electricity from heat, a breakthrough they claim could make a wide range of products more energy-efficient.

Researchers achieve dramatic increase in thermoelectric efficiency: thermoelectricity is the “hot and cool” issue of physics. Heating one end of a wire, for example, causes electrons to move to the cooler end, producing an electric current. In reverse, applying a current to the same wire will carry heat away from a hot section to a cool section. Phonons, a quantum mode of vibration, play a key role because they are the primary means by which heat conduction takes place in insulating solids....Bismuth antimony telluride is a material commonly used in thermoelectric products, and the researchers crushed it into a nanoscopic dust and then reconstituted it in bulk form, albeit with nanoscale constituents. The grains and irregularities of the reconstituted alloy dramatically slowed the passage of phonons through the material, radically transforming the thermoelectric performance by blocking heat flow while allowing the electrical flow.

Nanotechnology boosts thermoelectric effect: Thermoelectric coolers and power generators were handed a 40-percent boost in performance recently by a nanotechnological reconstruction of a classic bulk material. The technique is suitable for mass production, according to its inventors at Boston College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This makes it of use in both industrial and consumer cooling applications from semiconductors to nanoscale power generators.

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