Thermo-Flex Technologies has commercialized a Thermoelectric Textile that harness wasted heat to generate electricity, improving energy efficiency and realizing cost savings. Unlike current waste heat recovery technologies, mechanically flexible Thermoelectric Textiles will universally integrate with current industrial or commercial sources of waste heat through simple wrapping—like insulation. As compared to conventional thermoelectric technologies which use expensive (or hazardous) materials and costly manufacturing techniques, Thermo-Flex’s patented device schemes are economical with current textile and printing manufacturing. This low-cost, universal applicability device that utilizes a high-throughput textile manufacturing process positions Thermoelectric Textiles as a paradigm-shifting technology for waste heat recovery.
The true benefits for Thermoelectric Textiles can be fully realized when determining the end market; thus the value of the product is in combining with an appropriate end use. There are a myriad of areas where low-temperature heat waste can be collected and converted to electricity. One of the initial market entry points is projected to be with wireless sensor technology.
Used in Conjunction with Wireless Sensor Technology
- It is expected that industrial facilities will continue to take up wireless sensor technology for their operations
- Utilizing wireless sensor technology allows for the move towards smarter facility management systems in industrial settings
- US Department of Energy estimates that Wireless Sensor Networks can improve overall production efficiency by 11 to 18%
- Power consumption/battery life of the network is the dominating factor that affects implementation of these systems.
- If the sensors are not conveniently located near an existing power source, batteries need to be used. If batteries are used, they need to be consistently tested, checked, and replaced.
- If the sensor is located near an existing power source, it will need to be designed to handle the 120V power load, meaning an over designed and much more costly sensoring system.
- Flexible Thermoelectric Generators could provide localized power to a wide array of sensors that could be incorporated into a network used to monitor system efficiency, infrastructure lifetime, and environmental conditions
Used with Cooling Technology
- While this patented technology was originally conceived to collect waste heat for electric usage, the potential exists to utilize a Peltier cooling method.
- The economic viability of this option is still to be determined.