The Recycling of waste heat through the Application of Nanofluidic ChannelS: Advances in the Conversion of Thermal to Electrical energy
Increasing energy consumption, the depletion of natural resources, climate change and decreasing air quality are among the biggest economic and social challenges that we face today. At the same time, waste heat energy discharged into the atmosphere is one of the largest sources of clean, fuel-free and inexpensive energies available, with 70 % of all energy generated on a daily basis being lost as waste heat. Although technologies for converting waste heat into electrical energy have been around for a long time, such as thermoelectric and thermo-electrochemical cells, there is still no environmentally sustainable and efficient technology platform available for the viable harvesting of low-grade waste heat. There is therefore a clear need to develop an energy harvesting and conversion technology which has the potential to exceed the efficiency of current state-of-the-art devices whilst also utilising Earth-abundant materials. The central aim of TRANSLATE is therefore to develop a new proof-of-concept nanofluidic platform technology based on the flux of ions in nanochannels; leading to a breakthrough in versatile and sustainable energy harvesting and storage.Three breakthrough science and technology targets have been identified: 1) optimisation of ion movement and ion separation in nanochannels made from Earth-abundant materials, 2) the development of a sustainable and efficient heat-to-electrical energy platform and 3) the creation of a novel continuous operation energy harvesting power source with a high power/energy density and conversion efficiency.Expertise in materials science, nanofluidics, nanofabrication, thermoelectricity and electrochemistry is integrated on a pan-European level to achieve the overall aim of the project. The knowledge developed in TRANSLATE has the potential to reduce energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions on a local and global scale, thus improving citizens’ quality of life and benefiting society.