The heat emitted from waste incinerators, refineries, and data processors could soon become much more useful, thanks to a discovery by the startup OsmoBlue. The Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne Laboratory of Microsystems startup has found a way to convert waste heat over 30 degrees Celsius into electricity that could be used to heat buildings and even power the machines that produce the heat in the first place,
According to some studies, a large portion – between 20 to 50% – of energy consumed by systems like waste incinerators, refineries and data processors is dispersed as heat. But up until now, unless that heat was over 150 degrees Celsius (the temperature at which it was feasible to turn the heat into energy), it was wasted and just dispersed into the air. This is where OsmoBlue comes in. They’ve discovered a closed loop process that uses osmosis to convert heat that is over 30 degrees Celsius into electricity.
OsmoBlue’s technology can turn heat from a wide range of sources (air, water, gas or steam) into electricity. The OsmoBlue device would be connected on one side to the heat source and on the other side to the power grid. The efficiency of the machine would be dependent on the temperature of the dissipated heat and the nature of the heat source. Ideally, the machine would be installed within existing waste incinerators, refineries, data processors and others systems to capture heat and turn it into electricity.
The OsmoBlue team has completed a digital demonstration of the idea and has evaluated the potential performance of the product in a lab. The digital model allowed the team to ascertain that 10 megawatts of heat could produce between 100 and 600 kilowatts of electricity – enough to power one hundred homes.