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Electricity from Low-Temperature Waste Heat

Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES)
Generating Electricity from Waste Heat Using Metal Hydrides
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$1,244,006
Location: 
College Station, TX
Project Term: 
04/01/2013 to 09/30/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
There is a critical need to increase the efficiency of existing power generation technologies. One approach is to capture waste products for use in separate power generation systems. Because this waste product is a necessary component of traditional power generation, it can be considered a renewable energy source and utilized for new technologies. These dependent systems could dramatically increase the amount of power generated at a given location simply by making full use of the existing conditions rather than adding a new fuel source.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) is developing a system to generate electricity from low-temperature waste heat streams. Conventional waste heat recovery technology is proficient at harnessing energy from waste heat streams that are at a much higher temperature than ambient air. However, existing technology has not been developed to address lower temperature differences. The proposed system cycles between heating and cooling a metal hydride to produce a flow of pressurized hydrogen. This hydrogen flow is then used to generate electricity via a turbine generator. TEES's system has the potential to be more efficient than conventional waste heat recovery technologies based on its ability to harness smaller temperature differences than are necessary for conventional waste heat recovery.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, TEES's system would transform the low-temperature heat recovery industry, including solar thermal arrays, geo-thermal wells, natural gas compressor stations, and combustion exhaust gas.
Security: 
Greater use of thermal fuels would reduce U.S. reliance on fossil fuels, strengthening America's energy security.
Environment: 
Thermal fuel technologies have zero net greenhouse gas emissions and can also reduce fossil fuel consumption, helping curb production of carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global climate change.
Economy: 
Finding cost-effective ways to store and use thermal energy could create a profitable thermal fuels industry that spurs economic growth and creates cost savings for consumers.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Bryan Willson
Project Contact: 
Dr. Matt Koch
Partners
ERRA, Inc.
Texas A&M University - San Antonio
Release Date: 
11/28/2012