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Published on August 22nd, 2008 | by Ariel Schwartz


Smokestack Heat Seen as Possible Fuel Source

August 22nd, 2008 by  


Last month, scientists announced the discovery of a new technology to efficiently turn heat waste from cars, power generators, and heat pumps into electricity. But why stop there?

GMZ Energy, a company formed by researchers from Boston College and MIT, has developed a manufacturing process to improve the efficiency of existing thermoelectric modules.

Instead of using their technology with cars, the company plans to sell thermoelectric modules for cooling in small refrigerators and server racks. Ultimately, GMZ Energy wants to convert waste from smokestack heat and industrial equipment into electricity.

But GMZ still has a long way to go . Prototype models are currently at 7% efficiency, and while this is 30%-40% better for cooling than existing devices, it is not yet at the viability point of 10%.

Additionally, systems to convert smokestack heat into electricity have been around for at least 4 years, and we still haven’t seen anything close to widespread implementation of the technology. Clearly, heat waste recovery has a long way to go.

We can, however, look forward to more organizations getting in on the heat waste act. Bosch is interested in creating a home-heating unit to make electricity from exhaust heat, and other companies will no doubt follow.

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.

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