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MIT students seek to harness waste heat

MIT students seek to harness waste heatDevice could make MIT’s cogeneration plant even more efficient

The cogeneration plant of MIT, which provides for most of the air conditioning, electricity and heat needs of the campus (nearly 80 per cent), could work even more efficiently if the project of a group of students to control extra heat works as projected.

Daniel Kraemer and Andy Muto, graduate students in Mechanical Engineering, and Bryan Ho, who is a graduate student in Materials Science and Engineering, have been working on a thermoelectric set up that could be fitted either in a hot-water pipe or in exhaust flues at the cogeneration plant, in an effort to get some more electricity from heat currently a waste.

For testing the feasibility of the system, the team fitted a test module on one of rooftop flues of the plant this winter and will be examining it at regular intervals to get data on the working.

But, according to Kraemer the more promising possibility is to fit thermoelectric devices in a hot water line so that it can take even more of the waste heat.

Categories: General
  1. miggs
    August 5, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Great to read about this. I’m associated with Recycled Energy Development, a company that does cogeneration projects like the one MIT has on campus. The potential for national application is enormous, with EPA and DoE estimates suggesting that recycling energy at industrial facilities could reduce our greenhouse emissions by 20%. And of course, prices would fall too, since more efficiency means a bigger bang for the energy consumer’s buck.The reason more of this isn’t being done is that regulations tend to protect the profits of monopoly utilities — which are grossly inefficient — while preventing the emergence of more efficient alternatives. That’s what we really need to change. Our energy industry would change dramtically — as would our pollution levels and our pocketbooks.

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