Useful Electricity from Waste Heat

Heat to Power Using Thermoelectrics

Thermoelectric materials integrated into thermoelectric modules can be operated in two modes:

1) Heat passing through the module can be converted into useful electrical power in what is known as a Thermoelectric Generator (TEG) and

2) Electrical power supplied to the module can be converted into cooling in what is known as a Thermoelectric Cooler (TEC).

Romny Scientific’s materials and module technology offer high performance and high performance/$ TEGs and TECs in a volume manufacturable format. These devices operate with no moving parts, no sound or vibrations, and independent of their orientation with respect to gravity

 

Building Upon a Rich History

TEG technology has seen a slow but steady advance as work began turning the science of the thermoelectric phenomenon into thermoelectric technologies in the early 1900’s. Soviet scientist Abram Ioffe was a leading figure in this early work, leading both scientific discovery of thermoelectric materials and characterization as well as driving development of technologies and applications. Romny Scientific, Inc. is named after Abram Ioffe‘s home town of Romny, Ukraine.

Early thermoelectric generation development in the U.S. focused on space and military applications, including target applications of powering deep space probes, satellites, and potential colonies on the moon. As the years progressed, efforts within NASA focused on using radioactive heat sources in a module design, termed a Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG). NASA first launched a RTG in 1961 in the Transit 4A satellite. NASA continued to use this technology with continued improvements on materials and design for many satellite and deep space probe launches including the Viking 2 Mars Probe in 1975 and the recent launch of the RTG powered Mars Rover Mission.

There have been some products developed to generate useful power from waste heat using TEG technology in recent decades. However, these efforts have been limited to niche applications due to the high cost and toxicity of the materials used, as well as the complexity and poor reliability of typical TEG module architectures. Romny’s technology addresses these shortcomings, allowing thermoelectric devices to be a truly production scalable product.

Romny Changes the Economics of Power Generation

Simple Synthesis

Romny has invented a new process for forming high quality, dense materials.  This process is known as Rapid Thermal Synthesis, and it does away with expensive and complex processing.  We simple heat raw materials in the right environment and temperature to form fully dense, near net shape materials.  We have demonstrated this on a range of materials, including magnesium silicide and bismuth telluride thermoelectric materials.  This ultra low cost synthesis method forms the basis for our high performance power generation products.

High Performance Materials

No material delivers performance, low cost, and high volume scalability like Romny’s N and P type magnesium silicide thermoelectric materials.  The raw materials for this system are available on a massive scale and at very low cost, particularly compared with alternative thermoelectric materials such as those containing tellurium or hafnium.

Volume Scalability

When using thermoelectric coolers or power generation modules for a small niche application, it may not matter that you are using expensive or toxic raw materials, formed using complex laboratory processes.   Romny had built a technology from the ground up that can scale to high volume markets found in industrial and automotive applications.  Low cost raw materials, formed with our simple RTS process allow us to scale like no other waste heat recovery technology can.

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Publications and Downloads

IAV Thermoelectrics Conference

Presentation given at the 2014 IAV Thermoelectrics Conference in Berlin Germany