Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Waste Heat and how to use it

I've written previously about the need to find better ways to convert heat directly into electricity. And if I didn't write about it, I meant to, and certainly thought it.

I was thinking small, I never even considered waste heat going up stacks associated with manufacturing processes. It makes perfect sense that generally speaking, there are many industries that require high heat for their processes, and that heat has to be vented at some point. Industrial processes aren't closed systems in many cases, heat is being vented to the atmosphere in steel plants, coffee roasters, cement factories, all manner of kilns, and who knows where else.

Thanks to Erik Hoffner writing on Grist, I am now aware of a company that is seeking to use that waste heat to generate electricity. Recycled Energy Development, based in Chicago is covered in this article in Orion magazine referenced in the Grist piece.

The exchange of comments on the page is also worth reading, expanding on the base article very well and providing more details. Assuming that this is as deployable as they believe, even at 9%, as stated by user apsmith in the comments is a significant contribution to the total energy generation of the US. Sean Casten of Recycled Energy Development repeatedly states that the biggest obstacle to this in many cases is the regulatory structure associated with electric generation.

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