Scientists turn waste heat into electricity
Published 04/02/2011 | 05:00
A MAJOR breakthrough by scientists at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) will allow for the generation of electricity from waste heat.
The TCD team has found a way to capture and recycle the heat produced in everything from car engines to power plants.
The feat of the Trinity scientists, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, has been compared to the work that won a Nobel prize in 2010.
Up to 70pc of energy produced in power plants and cars is lost as waste heat because no one knew how to convert it to electricity.
The revolutionary discovery could also allow electric cars to run faster and for longer in the future.
The process is compared with breaking down a Lego construction into individual blocks, each of which takes on a new dynamic once it is separated out from the mass.
The discovery was made by a team led by Professor Jonathan Coleman at the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN).
Prof Coleman said that probably the most important application of the new "super materials" would be their ability to generate electricity from waste heat.
"It's breakthroughs like this which provide the return on investment made in research in Ireland over the past decade," Prof Coleman added.
It holds the promise of attracting interest from a wide range of industries and other interested parties, with the potential for a jobs spin-off.