Thermoelectric Solid-State Cooling Technology Wins $44.5M Funding

The near-term applications for Phononic’s science are high-end refrigeration for labs and medical facilities, as well as cooling for fiber optics and data servers that are “necessary to continue Moore’s law,” according to the company.

Source: www.greentechmedia.com

>” […] The 75-employee Phononic develops thermoelectrics — materials that can convert a temperature gradient to a voltage or vice versa. The technology is a brilliant pursuit, but no one has brought it to mass markets economically or at scale just yet. Traditional thermoelectrics use materials such as bismuth telluride or silicon germanium, and more recently, silicon nanowires.

[…] Phononic is looking to develop thermal management technology for consumer devices, and, more strikingly, to replace cheap, ubiquitous and century-old incumbent compressor technology.

CEO Anthony Atti told us this morning that the investment thesis around Phononic is that “semiconductors have revolutionized IT and LEDs, but have not had that same impact on cooling and heating.” He notes that Phononic’s thermoelectric technology is in the realm of Peltier cooling technology, but addresses three major shortcomings of that technology: efficiency, ability to scale, and ease of integration. […]

Atti claims that the compound semiconductor material used in his firm’s thermoelectrics can be manufactured using high-volume, standard semiconductor tools and equipment.

Bruce Sohn, the former president of First Solar, is on the board at Phononic. When we spoke with him this morning, he told us that he had been working with the firm for four years and believes the startup is doing something “revolutionary that can do to compressors what the [integrated circuit] did to the vacuum tube.”

Other companies developing thermoelectric technologies for cooling or capturing waste heat include the following:

  • Alphabet Energy is commercializing thermoelectric waste-heat harvesting technology developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and has raised more than $30 million from Encana, a developer of natural gas and other energy sources,
  • TPG Biotech, Claremont Creek Ventures, and the CalCEF Clean Energy Angel Fund.GMZ Energy, spun out of MIT with funding from KPCB, BP Alternative Energy, and Mitsui Ventures, is working on a bismuth-telluride thermovoltaic device that converts solar heat directly into power via the Seebeck effect. In the Seebeck effect, a sharp temperature gradient can result in an electric charge.
  • MTPV describes its product as a thermophotovoltaic. MTPV uses a silicon-based MEMS emitter which takes heat and transfers radiation to a germanium-based photovoltaic device, according to an article inSemiconductor Manufacturing and Design. The company just raised $11.2 million led by Northwater Capital Management’s Intellectual Property Fund, along with Total Energy Ventures, SABIC, the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, and follow-on investments from Spinnaker Capital, Ensys Capital, the Clean Energy Venture Group and other existing shareholders.
  • Silicium, funded by Khosla Ventures, is investigating high ZT thermoelectrics. The firm’s website claims, “Silicium is developing silicon thermoelectrics that enable substantially increased battery longevity for wearable electronics. By using body heat, Silicium technology can help power an entire spectrum of wearable devices…using off-the-shelf silicon wafers.
  • “Recycled Energy Development (RED) and Ormat have retrofitted factories to capture waste heat, not using thermoelectrics, but by adding CHP or cogeneration. […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Water-Smart Power: Strengthening the U.S. Electricity System in a Warming World (2013) | UCSUSA

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

This report shows how the U.S. can build an electricity system that protects our water resources and dramatically reduces global warming emissions.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>The country stands at a critical crossroads. Many aging, water-intensive power plants are nearing the end of their lives. The choices we make to replace them will determine the water and climate implications of our electricity system for decades to come.

Today’s electricity system cannot meet our needs in a future of growing demand for power, worsening strains on water resources, and an urgent need to mitigate climate change.

[…]

Energy-water collisions are happening now, and are poised to worsen in a warming world

  • The heat waves and drought that hit the U.S. in 2011 and 2012 shined a harsh light on the vulnerability of the U.S. power sector to extreme weather, and revealed water-related electricity risks across the country.
  • When plants cannot get enough cooling water, they must cut back or completely shut down their generators, as happened in 2011 and 2012 at plants around the country.
  • Nationally, the 2012 drought was the worst in half a century. Amid soaring temperatures in the Midwest, several power plant operators got permission to discharge exceptionally hot water rather than reduce power output.
  • Electricity-water collisions are poised to worsen in a warming world as the power sector helps drive climate change. Extreme weather conditions that have historically been outliers are expected to become standard fare.<

See on www.ucsusa.org