Etalim, based in Vancouver, Canada, says its engine, roughly the size of a basketball, could improve the economics of electricity production for the cogeneration of power and heat in homes, and as a way to harness the heat produced at concentrating solar collectors.
The company has ambitious goals. A first prototype, completed last year, demonstrated that the concept works, but relatively low heat was used, so its efficiency was only 10 percent. A second prototype that aims for 20 to 30 percent efficiency at 500 °C is expected this spring. A commercial product with 40 percent efficiency running at 700 °C is targeted for 2012. It will initially be sold as a cheaper and longer-lasting competitor to fuel cells used for residential cogeneration. The company believes it can manufacture the engine for less than $1 per watt, and has a long-term target of 15 cents per watt, which would make it less expensive than a comparable internal combustion engine.
“Everything to get us to 40 percent efficiency is right in line with what we’ve seen from our prototype so far,” says Klopfer, adding that 50 percent is the longer-term target. “To get from 40 percent to 50 percent, we need to raise the temperature to 1,000 °C, and that requires some use of ceramics.”
Etalim Inc. is developing new and groundbreaking technology that converts any fuel or heat source to electricity, with extraordinary efficiency and simplicity. The Etalim TEG (thermoelectric generator) device is elegant, straightforward to manufacture, and inexpensive. Etalim’s unique TEG platform has several addressable markets, such as utility-scale solar power, cogeneration/CHP, and auxiliary/rural/telecom power generation. Etalim plans to manufacture and sell TEG devices to system OEMs within our target markets.
The Etalim TEG can achieve an extraordinary set of performance breakthroughs:
* Very high efficiency - almost twice the efficiency of other small engines * Operation from any available heat source or fuel * Zero mechanical friction or wear * Zero maintenance over an operating life of many decades * Very low cost - simple architecture using standard materials and production processes
Micro Combined Heat and Power systems are essentially a home heating furnace or boiler that produces electricity in addition to heat. Conventional grid electricity generation is highly inefficient, with as little as 35% of the energy in the fuel burned in the power plant becoming electricity in the home. The rest of the energy is wasted as heat in the power station, with a small amount lost in transmission across the grid. Micro-CHP systems use natural gas (or other fuels) to generate electricity at the point of demand, with very high efficiency. This is possible because waste heat from electricity generation is captured and used within the home. Micro-CHP offers homeowners several hundred dollars in energy bill savings per year, with approximately five-year payback of equipment cost. Utilities and governments are strongly advocating micro-CHP because it can increase overall power generation capacity without expensive capital equipment and transmission investment, while reducing the carbon footprint of an average home by 1 tonne per year or more.
Solar Power Application
The Etalim TEG is well suited to utility-scale solar power generation. (Etalim TEG would operate similar to a stirling engine) An Etalim-based solar power system will be comprised of a solar concentrating dish, 3m in diameter, that tracks the sun and concentrates sunlight onto our proprietary TEG. A 10 MW power plant based on the Etalim dish/TEG system would consist of an array of dishes 60 wide and 60 deep.
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Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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