Fall is here, and If you aren’t part of the lucky few to still be basking in the sun (ah, Italia!), don’t fret – we have some great news that will surely brighten your day and warm your house. Recently Boulder-based company Cool Energy, Inc. unveiled SolarHeart, a specialized engine that can convert low temperature solar power and waste energy into enough electricity to provide 80% of a home’s heat, all of its hot water, and 60% of its electricity!
Proof that there is no need to reinvent the wheel, Cool Energy revamped the principles behind the 19th century Stirling engine, which operates by capturing the energy from pressure formed when hydrogen is alternately heated and cooled within a closed chamber. Normally, running this engine with solar panels would not be feasible for homes, given that enough light needs to be gained to generate heat of up to 500 degrees.
However by implementing poor heat conducting plastics and ceramic materials, Cool Energy cleverly designed a 200 degree, low-temperature engine able to separate the “hot side” and “cold side”. By creating a significant enough temperature differential between the two sides, very low temperatures are required to get the engine running. In fact, the system works best in colder climates such as the Northern US, Canada and Europe, even finding the most advantageous economies of scale in these locales.
The new SolarHeart engine will be integrated into Cool Energy’s SolarFlow system, which will work to convert low temperature solar light and waste heat into storable electricity for homes and small buildings. Each installation will emit zero pollution, reducing household emissions by up to 6 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
Moreover, the ability for the engine to run on any heat source, including waste heat, is especially noteworthy. This means that the system could also be used in combination with industrial factories and diesel generators, capturing any waste heat that is generated and essentially recycling it to create clean energy for the local grid. Cool Energy says that the application of these systems in remote locations has an estimated energy gain of 20% and a payback period as short as one year.
Via Clean Technica
Photo by Mark F. Levisay