One approach to solving our energy woes is to increase the efficiency of components and systems, especially those in industry, and another, secondary, approach is to attempt to recapture some of the waste from those processes and turn it back into energy. And while the first approach is good, if the issue of capturing the resource of waste heat isn't addressed, there will probably still be money left on the table - and quite a bit of it.
According to MicroPower Global, somewhere in the neighborhood of half of the money spent producing energy ends up as waste heat, which could be at least partially recaptured to lower overall energy use. To that end, the company is developing what they are calling the "world's most efficient semiconductor chip" that can generate about triple the amount of energy that current thermoelectric technology can.
The MicroPower Chip, currently in a crowdfunding phase, is said to not only operate at significantly lower temperature ranges, but to also hit an absolute efficiency rate of 18% at temperatures between 200˚C and 600˚C. Other current thermoelectric products deliver an efficiency rate of right around 5%, so the MicroPower Chips could be a real game-changer.
Although the energy savings for devices using MicroPower Chip technology might only reach 10%, the overall impact on the world could be significant, as Max Lewinsohn, the company's CEO, related to Renewable Energy Magazine:
"If every heat engine in the world – every power plant, industrial plant, car, plane, etc. – could be made 10% more energy efficient, it would save an enormous amount of money and fuel – the latter being crucial as it would enable us to make better use of the limited resources we currently have at our disposal. This could play a crucial role in giving alternative forms of energy – solar, wind, geothermal, etc. – more time to develop and become commercially viable by the time we really do start running out of fossil fuels." - Lewinsohn
Unlike many clean tech campaigns on Kickstarter, this one doesn't have any cool consumer products to reward the backers, but the company plans to use some of their future chips to embed in displays for campaign perks.
Find out more, or pitch in, at the MicroPower Chips Kickstarter page.