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Eleven Million US Homes Could Be Powered by Waste Heat

02 Nov 12:00 by Steve Walia

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A new device has been created by engineers at Berkeley to tap into energy from waste heat. Although other technologies already exist for energy from waste power generation, this new device will be the most efficient of its kind, and the producers behind it are looking firmly at applying it to a primary source of waste heat.

Vehicles and power plants both emit vast amounts of combustion exhaust, which releases wasted heat into the atmosphere and provides both risk and opportunity. Around 66pc of energy produced currently by traditional means is lost as heat. On a global scale, 208 TWh are lost in heat from 104,000 TwH of produced energy. Even if just 5pc of this wasted heat could be captured at 10 cents per Kwh, an industry worth more than a trillion dollars a year could be created.

Additionally, in America alone, if every manufacturing, gas and oil plant used this new device, then it could produce enough energy to power 11.4 million properties. The device is called the PowerCard, and it is only the size of a tortilla chip, carrying a cheap and easily available mineral which can be used to produce power from high-pressure hot air.

These PowerCards can be used on their own or combined together to make an enclosed generator. Their small size, powerful technology and affordable nature could given them diverse and powerful applications across vehicles and manufacturing plants worldwide. The device could sit within a car's exhaust or within a commercial facility when combined with others. The developers are now working to make the device commercially viable and to get to a point where its efficiency makes the resulting clean energy more economically attractive than power produced from fossil fuel sources.