General Electric (GE) and Idaho Labs Get Funding To Change Waste Heat Into Electricity

General Electric and the Idaho National Laboratory just announced that they have received $2 million in funding from the Department of Energy for a project that transforms waste heat into electricity. CNET News estimates that the technology has the potential to improve the efficiency of industrial engines by 20 to 40 percent. The improvements in efficiency come from improving the Organic Rankine Cycle to convert heat from industrial engines into power in a cost-effective manner.

In a story posted on the Idaho National Laboratory’s website, leaders from both organizations commented on the project:

"This new technology could yield a 20- to 40-percent increase in energy efficiency," said Donna Guillen, INL research engineer and project leader. "The process can produce additional electricity without using additional fuel, avoiding the release of millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions and reducing U.S. reliance on foreign oil."

"This concept is transformational because it places the evaporator directly in the hot exhaust stream, something that no other commercial company has dared to do before," Guillen said. "Our INL team will be conducting analyses on the flammability, chemical decomposition and two-phase heat transfer aspects of GE’s design."

"GE has developed a new technology that transforms the Rankine cycle by eliminating the intermediate hot oil stage," said Todd Wetzel of GE’s Niskayuna, N.Y., division. "Our new evaporator permits direct transfer of this waste heat, which increases overall efficiency at a far more affordable price than before."

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