Thermoelectrics — which use wasted heat to generate electricity — could get a lot more interesting thanks to a company called Alphabet Energy. It's set to commercialize tetrahedrite, a metal that more than doubles the efficiency of current tech for as little as a fiftieth the cost. Thermoelectric materials work because they can do a rare trick: transfer heat poorly while conducting electricity well. However, current materials are pricy and polluting, and only convert about 2.5 percent of heat energy to electricity. Tetrahedrite, meanwhile, could reach 5 to 10 percent efficiency while running a mere $4 per kilogram. Alphabet Energy says it could tap waste heat from industrial plants or even a vehicle's exhaust system to produce electricity, making it virtually free. That'd mean you could power your car's cooling AC using wasted heat, ironically — without a solar panel in sight.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at the time of publishing.
View All Comments
Generating power from heat will soon be dirt cheap