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Directory:Thermal Electric

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This page presents a directory of thermal electric environmental heat engine designs and theories, which in some cases appear to violate the second law of thermodynamics for the purpose of practical energy generation. Index of systems that utilize temperature gradients to generate usable energy or electricity (known as thermal electricity).



There are many large scale thermal to electric systems operating today, many with low delta-T's (temperature change) like the Ener-G-Rotor system that takes the waste heat from steam turbines and produces 50 KW. -- (NEC Advisor, Jim Dunn; Sept. 6, 2007)

Such devices fall into one of two categories:



  • Featured: Solid State > Thermal Electric >
    NRGLab's SH Box weighs in at #3 in Top 5 - My reasons include: good price point: $0.03/kW-h; portable, solid-state, 24/7/365 constant; strong independent validation, including by TUV; strong business team and plan (not that I agree with the strategy); licensing the technology in a non-disruptive approach; science is not too much of a stretch; nearness to market (2014). (PESWiki; December 31, 2012)
  • Fellows' Thermoacoustic Cycle (TAC) Generator - Texas inventor's technology uses heat to amplify acoustic waves (sound waves) in a high pressure gas, which drive a linear generator and produce electric power. The system can allegedly be built at a very low cost. (PESWiki)
  • ENECO Chip Converts Heat to Electricity - Utah company claims to have invented and patented a "solid state energy conversion/generation chip" that will convert heat directly into electricity or alternatively refrigerate down to -200 degrees Celsius when electricity is applied.
  • Rauen Environmental Heat Engine - The Superclassical heat engine of Ken Rauen is designed to be able to tap the heat of the environment for energy generation. It is based upon the experimental evidence of the Proell effect, a macroscopic Maxwell’s Demon. ("PESWiki"; April 1, 2006)
  • Nansulate Paint Creates Efficient Thermal Barrier - Industrial Nanotech, Inc has a line of non-toxic paint products that integrate nanotechnology to provide insulative properties, corrosion resistance, mold resistance. They are also engineering a method to generate electricity from the thermal gradient to which the coating is exposed.

Ambient Air Engines

See Directory:Ambient_Air_Engines - separate page

Mechanical Thermal Electric Systems

  • Piezoelectric / Thermal Electric >
    Physicists Shrink Heat Engines by Seven Orders of Magnitude - A 0.5 cubic micrometer heat engine being developed by NXP Semiconductors in the Netherlands is essentially a bar of piezoelectric material which expands and contracts when an alternating current is applied, which changes the resistance of the bar, so passing a DC current through the bar at the same time causes the bar to heat up and cool down... (MIT Technology Review; Jan. 22, 2010) (Thanks Jim Dunn)
  • Transpacific Energy - Advanced Organic Rankine Cycle TransPacifc Energy has developed a heat recovery and energy conversion system that produces electricity from waste heat (or other low temperature heat sources such as solar). The process uses an advanced Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) with a proprietary, environmentally sound multiple refrigerant mixture that can easily be adapted to low and medium heat sources and used where ammonia, propane, butane and other CFCs cannot be used. (PR; June 22, 2008)
  • Evaporation Heat Engines - Sunoba has developed a heat engine that operates by evaporative cooling of hot air at reduced pressure. The engine has natural advantages when waste heat is available (such as gas turbine exhaust) or can be produced cheaply (such as by passive solar collection). Air is the heat transfer medium and working gas, so there is no need for heat exchangers. The efficiency is comparable to that of simple Rankine turbines operating at the same maximum temperature, but there is no need for boiler or condenser. Evaporative coolers can actually generate power.

  • IAUS solar design includes super-efficient, bladeless turbine - International Automated Systems, Inc. (IAUS.OB) ["IAS"] has developed a new breakthrough bladeless turbine technology. It is a patented propulsion turbine, which some believe may revolutionize electrical power generation and low-cost hydrogen fuel production.Thermal solar panels will produce electricity at 3-5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Highly-efficient bladeless turbine has wide range of waste-heat-harnessing applications. ("PESN"; Aug. 2, 2005)

  • Thermator - VarmaRaf makes thermoelectric generators that use the Seebeck effect to induce voltage in solid state devices as heat flows through them. With a constant excess heat source, such as geothermal water or ambient air, Varmaraf's generators are considerably more economical than photovoltaic generators, based on the number of watthours produced annually.
  • Shockwave Power Reactor - Hydro Dynamics makes the ShockWave Power™ Reactor (SPR) to create heat. The moving rotor inside the Reactor produces cavitation in the liquid. The cavitation, in turn, creates millions of microscopic bubbles inside the liquid that release heat when they collapse. Used in heating food products, chemical and polymeric streams, and industrial brines using controlled cavitation technology.
  • StarDrive Engineering - Electrodynamic field generator (US Patent 6,404,089) "could actually now be used for electric power generation on a commercial scale far more efficiently and economically than any other method known."
  • Acoustic Stove, Fridge, Generator Could Aid Third World - The "Stove for Cooking, Refrigeration and Electricity," or SCORE, could help improve the health and quality of life for the two billion or so people in the world who cook over open fires. The SCORE thermoacoustics technology promoted by a multi-institutional project converts heated gas into sound waves which can be used to cook, cool, and/or generate electricity.
  • Thermal Acoustic Resonator - Uses sound waves to convert waste heat directly into useable electricity. Working prototype; video; patent. Can be printed on microchip. Seeking licensees, developer partners, venture partners. (Contributed by Chris Horianopoulos)
  • Deluge Inc's Thermal Hydraulic Engine Generates from Low Heat Input - Utilizing low level heat energy, 180°F (82°C), the Natural Energy Engine™ is suitable for solar, geothermal, or any other heat source, including waste heat from existing processes. The engine requires no combustion, operates virtually silently, and generates no emissions. Now ready for commercialization.
  • Honda patents exhaust-heat-to-energy process - Honda has received a patent on an exhaust heat exchanger that harnesses the heat energy from the exhaust through a thermal exchange, which can then be converted into electrical energy through a thermal electric process or to drive a turbine/generator.
  • Ergenics - Developing a metal hydride heat engine that converts solar hot water into electricity for an estimated cost of less than 1¢ per kilowatt hour. The solar panels produce hot water which is pumped to a hydrogen compressor, that compresses a gas that is then expanded in a hydraulic motor-generator set that produces electricity.
  • Michaud Atmospheric Vortex Engine - Louis Michaud's atmosphere vortex engine would harness waste heat from power plants and other heat sources, creating a stationary tornado and capturing the rotational force.
  • Ghosh Energy from Atmospheric Heat - Pranab Jyoti Ghosh seeks assistance for building a working prototype of a technology that would produce electricity from atmospheric heat, based on combining a number of well-proven concepts. Uses a mechanical arrangement similar to a heat pump.
  • US 7019412 -- Power generation methods and systems - A closed loop system for generating mechanical energy at high efficiencies. The system can have a heating source, a superheater, an expander, a receiver, an absorber, a desorber, and regenerator with pumps and controls. The superheater heats a working fluid (a refrigerant or steam). A positive liquid/vapor expander expands a low temperature refrigerant, or steam vapor to the saturated state (having both liquid and vapor parts) utilizing a low-pressure sub-atmospheric exhaust sink. An absorber, generates a low-pressure sub-atmospheric sink using chemosorption which involves the exothermic reaction/absorption of ammonia refrigerant in water. The desorber is used to reconstitute inlet vapor (for reuse) and the regenerator recovers heat generated by chemosorption. The system can meet electrical power needs for residences, businesses or office buildings. The system can supply electrical energy to power grids, and can be an alternative power generation plants. (Issued Mar. 28, 2006)
  • Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) - seeks to harness the temperature difference between surface and deep sea water. An MIT Technology Review article estimated that "massive ocean thermal energy conversion plants may be turning this heat to usable electricity by 1985." This vision has not yet been fulfilled, though progress is being made toward 6-8 cents/kW-h electricity by this method. ("MIT Technology Review"; July 21, 2006)
  • EIC Solutions manufactures thermoelectric air conditioners designed to protect PC's and other types of industrial control equipment from harsh environments.
  • ThermoElectric Generator (TEG) converts the engine's waste exhaust heat into electricity to replace the alternator. Power to the driveshaft increases, which increases fuel efficiency.
  • ReGen Power Systems - Developing a 1 megawatt low temperature Stirling engine to convert excess process heat and steam energy at industrial plants into electricity. It has an efficiency of 13% for steam and 20% for industrial heat, with O&M costs projected at $0.006/kWh and a payback period from 2-3 years.
  • JX Crystals ThermoPhotoVoltaics - Midnight Sun Stove® was the very first commercial TPV product, demonstrating the basic TPV concept - generating electricity from heat energy.
  • ElectraTherm - Waste Heat Generators capture waste heat (190 F+) to generate fuel-free emission-free electricity. If used on a wide scale, recycled energy could generate the equivalent of ninety-two 500 MW gas-fired combined-cycle plants without any fuel consumption.
  • Ormat Technologies - The Ormat Energy Converter (OEC) is a power generation unit which converts low and medium temperature heat into electrical energy using the Organic Rankine Cycle. Ormat has manufactured more than 750 MW of geothermal power plants, and also uses the OEC to generate power from exhaust heat recovery in energy-intensive industrial processes.
  • Amerigon - Developing products based on thermoelectric (TE) technologies for conversion of electrical current to thermal energy (Peltier effect) or heat differentials to electric current (Seebeck effect). The initial product is the Climate Control Seat™ (CCS™) cooled/heated car seat, which provides all-season heating and cooling comfort.
  • Custom Thermoelectric - Power generation modules utilize the Seebeck effect to generate electrical energy from waste heat sources such as wood stoves, gas and fuel exhausts, boilers and solar collectors and concentrators. Each face of the device must be exposed to different temperatures; a "hot" side and a "cold" side. The greater the temperature difference, the more power generated.
  • CUBE Technology - The Personal Power Generator combines fuel and air inside a ceramic Micro-Furnace that produces a flameless heat source using any fuel such as Hydrogen, Propane, Butane, or Alcohols. An efficient Thermoelectric Module then converts this fuel energy into electricity with no moving parts to wear out or maintain.
  • New engine to slash 50% off emissions - Epicam's dexpressor concept would harvest wasted car exhaust heat to drive a pump-like rotor, improving engine efficiency, emissions and fuel economy up to 50 per cent. A heat exchange coil around the exhaust manifold of the engine super-heats water, building up pressure that is used to turn rotors that feed into the crankshaft of the engine. (Business Weekly; Feb. 28, 2007)
  • Encore's Accelerated Magnetic Piston Generator - New (Magnetic Piston Generator) MPG design has the flexibility to be powered by any source of thermal (heat) or pressure energy to produce electricity. Propels a permanent magnet through a series of electro-magnetic coils to generate electricity according to Faraday's Law of Induction. Image:Encore mpg crop.gif (PESWiki; Aug. 8, 2005)

Pyroelectric Nanogenerators

  • Thermal Electric / Nanotech >
    Ancient effect harnessed to produce electricity from waste heat - A phenomenon first observed by an ancient Greek philosopher 2,300 years ago has become the basis for a new device designed to harvest the enormous amounts of energy wasted as heat each year to produce electricity. The first-of-its-kind "pyroelectric nanogenerator" is the topic of a report in ACS' journal Nano Letters. (PhysOrg; June 13, 2012)

Solid State

  • Thermal Electric / Batteries >
    Graphene in new ‘battery’ breakthrough? - Researchers at Hong Kong Polytechnic University claim to have invented a new kind of graphene-based "battery" that runs solely on ambient heat. The device is said to capture the thermal energy of ions in a solution and convert it into electricity. Such a device might find use in a range of applications, including powering artificial organs, generating renewable energy and powering electronics. (PhysicsWorld; March 8, 2012)
  • Nanotech / Waste to Energy > Waste Heat > Thermal Electric > Solid State >
    Turning Waste Heat Into Power via Nanotech Molecules - Using a theoretical model of a so-called molecular thermoelectric device, a technology being developed at the University of Arizona harvests waste heat and cleanly converts it directly into electrical power, and requires no moving parts. A rubber-like polymer sandwiched between two metals acting as electrodes can do the trick, taking advantage of the laws of quantum physics. (Univ. of AZ News; Sept. 23, 2010)
  • Beakon Technologies - Developing next generation thermoelectric (TE) device with efficiencies 10-15 times that of today’s Peltier-elements and 30% higher than compressors. The Beakon chip can provide a cooling solution for applications like computers, cell phones, lasers but also replace traditional cooling systems like the compressor in a refrigerator. (Beakon Technologies; July 6, 2008)
  • Cheap, Efficient Thermoelectrics via Nanomaterials - Researchers at MIT and Boston College have developed an inexpensive, simple technique for achieving a 40 percent increase in the efficiency of a common thermoelectric material, bringing the technology closer to becoming economically feasible for a wide range of waste heat recovery. (MIT Technology Review; March. 20, 2008) (MIT EI)
  • TEG 5000 - The Cordless-Electric Company has developed the TEG 5000, thermoelectric generator that is solid-state, makes no noise, and has no moving parts. Corroboration
  • Thermoelectric battery and power plant - US Patent #6,130,377 issued Oct. 2000 to Carlos Avila Rivera now posted with images. Device is two patents in one. (1) Thermoelectric battery generates electricity from temperature gradient. (2) Pendulum with sphere containing ions generates current from Foucault principle.

  • Advanced Diamond Solutions amorphous nanostructures - Semiconductor industry company serendipitously developed thermionic solar cells using amorphous diamond nanostructures that offer potential efficiencies of 50% at half the cost of silicon solar cells. Also has good promise as a thermal electric generator.
  • Johnson Electro Mechanical Systems - Thermal energy system invented by the person who came up with the Super Soaker can achieve a conversion efficiency rate that tops 60 percent with a new solid-state heat engine. It uses temperature differences to create pressure gradients that are used to force ions through a membrane, instead of moving an axle or wheel. Inventor has also come up with an ambient energy conversion system as well as an electric heat pump.
  • Nova Thermal Electric Chips - Salt Lake company is in late R&D stage in bringing forward an efficient, low-heat conversion to electricity method.
  • A Sound Way to Turn Heat into Electricity - University of Utah physicists developed small devices that turn heat into sound and then into electricity via piezoelectric conversion. The technology holds promise for changing waste heat into electricity, harnessing solar energy and cooling computers and radars. (PESN; May 5, 2007)
  • New nanostructured thin film shows promise for efficient solar energy conversion - Researchers at Berkeley have demonstrated highly efficient thermoelectric behavior from arrays of silicon nanowires grown onto a silicon wafer. The technology is compatible with fabrication processes used in the large-scale silicon processing industry. A low-cost thermoelectric system could be used to generate electricity from heat lost from fossil-fuel based energy generation. (EnergyTech Today; Jan. 8, 2008)
  • An Alternative to your Alternator - Researchers at MIT are developing new technology for converting heat into light and then into electricity that could eventually save fuel in vehicles by replacing less-efficient alternators and allowing electrical systems to run without the engine idling. (MIT Technology Review; June 1, 2006)
  • Active Building Envelope system provides heating and cooling - The ABE system being developed by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute accomplishes the jobs of both cooling and heating, yet operates silently with no moving parts, using a thin-film technology that adheres both solar cells and heat pumps onto surfaces.
  • Power Chips™ Convert Heat to Electricity - Chips use thermionics to convert heat directly into electricity with a Carnot heat pump efficiency of up to 70-80%. This will be one of the first industrial applications of nanotechnology.
  • Solar technology that works at night - INL and MicroContinuum are developing cheap solar technology that could absorb energy from both sunlight and the earth's heat, with 80% efficiency compared to 20% for conventional solar cells. Tiny square metal spirals, or “nanoantennas?, are stamped onto a sheet of plastic and can be made of a number of different conducting metals. (GizMag; Jan. 4, 2008)
  • Reincarnated material turns waste heat into power - A major boost in the effectiveness of a material that transforms waste heat into electricity could significantly boost energy efficiency in anything from air conditioners to car engines. It is the first major improvement in such "thermoelectric" materials in 50 years, say researchers. (New Scientist; Mar. 20, 2008)
  • Charles M. Brown Chip Update - Patent describes a chip which absorbs heat directly while producing electrical power. "The invention comprises an array of very many very small diodes in uniform alignment parallel, imbedded in a microchip. A mature design of 100,000,000,000 diodes per square centimeter ... would produce ~100 watts per square centimeter."
  • Organic Thermoelectric Material from UC Berkeley - Researchers have generated electricity from heat by trapping organic molecules between metal nanoparticles to create an organic thermoelectric material. The discovery could lead to the development of more cost-effective thermoelectric converters that could be applied to waste heat recovery—including in vehicles. (Green Car Congress; Feb. 15, 2007)
  • Air Conditioning via the Peltier Effect - When a temperature difference is applied to certain dissimilar metals, an electric current results. This is called the Seebeck effect. The reverse of this -- applying current to effect a temperature difference -- is called the Peltier Effect.
  • Creating power out of thin air - Syrdec is working on generating electricity from ambient room heat by combining the Seebeck effect and the product of nuclear fusion. Two substances are combined, one with its natural energy state artificially altered inside the molecular structure to produce an excited state at room temperatures. (CNET News; Oct. 26, 2007)
  • High-Performance Thermoelectric Capability in Silicon Nanowires - Researchers have shown that the thermoelectric properties of silicon—a material that can be processed on a large scale but has poor thermoelectric properties—can be vastly improved by structuring it into arrays of nanowires and carefully controlling nanowire morphology and doping. (Green Car Congress; Jan. 11, 2008)
  • Belleza Thermoelectric Generator - Paul Bellezza wants to be able to mass produce his "Highly Efficient Thermoelectric Generator," an invention that would produce electricity more efficiently than anything now on the market. He knows the invention works. He hasn’t yet been able come up with a way to reliably reproduce it. (PESWiki; Feb. 13, 2008)
  • High Merit Thermoelectrics - Thermoelectric device manufacturing company that offers devices that include an innovative material called YMS, that out-performs competing materials, nearly quadrupling device efficiency. The devices are long-lasting, compact, environmentally benign power sources that directly convert heat into electrical energy.


  • Featured / Top 5: Solid State > Thermal Electric > NRGLab >
    NRGLab posts video of June 8, 2012 test of SH-1 - "SH-1 crystal considered as a mini generator for small applications, such as phones, laptops, cars, etc. The lifespan of SH-1 is 3 years under a constant load. Current NRGLab business plan is targeting SH-6 generators that have a capacity of 100 kW and are pretty big boxes (22 m3)." [Email recommending including "amps" in data, and urging against auction approach.] (PESWiki; January 1, 2013)
  • Featured: Solid State > Thermal Electric >
    NRGLab's SH Box weighs in at #3 in Top 5 - My reasons include: good price point: $0.03/kW-h; portable, solid-state, 24/7/365 constant; strong independent validation, including by TUV; strong business team and plan (not that I agree with the strategy); licensing the technology in a non-disruptive approach; science is not too much of a stretch; nearness to market (2014). (PESWiki; December 31, 2012)
  • Featured / Top 5: Solid State > Thermal Electric > NEW: NRGLab >
    NRGLab to auction clean energy license for Philippines - A Singapore company has developed a solar type crystal technology that harnesses environmental heat to provide continuous power in the range of 3 cents per kilowatt-hour --- about three times cheaper then the cheapest places on earth. On February 5, 2013, they will be holding their first auction for licensing the technology, beginning in the Philippines. (PESN; December 31, 2012)

Thin-Film Thermoelectrics

  • Micropelt - Solid state thin film Peltier cooler and thermogenerator devices build on a scalable semiconductor platform technology. Heating and cooling energy density of > 100 W per cm2.
  • Nanocoolers - These are ideal for use in a range of applications that require cooling, heating and/or temperature stabilization, including: Electronics Cooling / Thermal Management, Lasers and Optical Communications, Aerospace / Military / Defense, Micro-refrigeration, Medical / Bio-medical, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning.
  • RTI International - Thin-Film Superlattice Technology- A thermoelectric module with just one square centimeter of RTI's new material can provide 700 watts of cooling under a nominal temperature gradient.


  • Solar / Storage / Thermal >
    Thermo-Chemical Solar Energy could be efficient and indefinitely storable - Researchers at MIT are working on a new process in thermo-chemical solar energy that uses a molecular structure reconfiguration to capture energy from the sun, potentially storing it forever. A molecule of fulvalene diruthenium changes its configuration when it absorbs heat, and later releases heat when it snaps back to its original shape. (MIT News; Oct. 26, 2010)

Research and Development

  • Thermoelectric wristband can heat or cool your entire body - A team of scientists and engineers from MIT have attempted to tackle this problem by asking one simple and radical question: what if we focus on the temperature of the individual instead of the temperature of the building? (Free Energy Blog; November 8, 2013)
  • Thermal Electric >
    Atoms Reach Record Temperature, Colder than Absolute Zero - Negative temperatures could be used to create heat engines — engines that convert heat energy to mechanical work, such as combustion engines — that are more than 100-percent efficient, something seemingly impossible. Such engines would essentially not only absorb energy from hotter substances, but also colder ones. (RedIceCreations; January 6, 2013)
    • Radio > Red Ice / AlienScientist > Thermal Electric / Conspiracy / UFOs / 911 >
      Alien Scientist on Red Ice Radio - Jeremy Rys is a physicist, researcher and media producer who runs the website Alien Scientist, as well as the popular YouTube channel that puts forth a rational approach to Fringe Science, Aliens, and Conspiracy Theories. The first hour gets into government black op programs and technology. Also discusses recent news that physicists have created a quantum gas capable of reaching temperatures below absolute zero, paving the way for future quantum inventions. (RedIceRadio; January 13, 2013)
  • Nanotech / Thermal Electric >
    Carbon nanotubes offer new way to produce electricity - MIT scientists have discovered that moving pulse of heat traveling along the miniscule wires known as carbon nanotubes can cause powerful waves of energy. These "thermopower waves" can drive electrons along like a collection of flotsam propelled along the surface of ocean waves, creating an electrical current. The previously unknown phenomenon opens up a new area of energy research. (GizMag; March 8, 2010)
  • Material May Help Autos Turn Heat into Electricity - Researchers have invented a new material that could potentially make cars more efficient, by converting heat wasted through engine exhaust into electricity. The researchers say that the material has twice the efficiency of anything currently on the market. (Renewable Energy Worldwide; July 25, 2008)
  • Thermal Electric / Human-Powered >
    Human heat can power electronics - New energy-scavenging systems under development at MIT could generate electricity just from differences in temperature between the body (or other warm object) and the surrounding air, harnessing differences of just one or two degrees, producing tiny (~100 microwatts) but nevertheless useful amounts of electricity. (GizMag; Feb. 17, 2010)


  • Thermal Electric / Zero Point Energy >
    First Observation of the Dynamical Casimir Effect - A rapidly moving mirror that turns virtual photons into real ones is the first experimental evidence of the dynamical Casimir effect. "One of the most surprising predictions of modern quantum theory is that the vacuum of space is not empty. In fact, quantum theory predicts that it teems with virtual particles flitting in and out of existence." (MIT Technology Review; May 26, 2011)


In the News

See News:Thermal Electric - commenced February 2012



See Discussion page

  • Environmental Heat Engine - Yahoo!Groups discussion list surrounding the environmental heat engine concept. Encouraging replications, refinement of theory, and ultimately getting a feasible product to market.


Dig Deeper


  • Stirling Engine - Generates Energy from Small External Temperature Gradients - Index of resources regarding this technology that enables the tapping of waste heat or cold. Displacer piston moves enclosed air back and forth between cold and hot reservoirs.
  • Refrigeration Unplugged - A prototype metal cylinder with a liquid coolant has converted the heat from fire into an inexpensive chilling agent. Cylindrical device, called a "Coolth", 10 cm x 20 cm long, could be built for as little as $18 per unit. ("MIT Technology Review"; Dec.2006/Jan.2006) (See Google)

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