Eneco Announces Direct Heat-to-Electricity Device

ENECO, a small company in Salt Lake City that we’ve known for over 5 years, has kept a very low profile until this week, when it burst into the news with an announcement, jointly with MIT, of a solid state device that converts heat directly to electricity at higher efficiency than thermoelectric devices. With considerable luck, they landed a feature article in Tuesday’s NY Times weekly Technology section:

They had given the NY Times a 24 hour head start before issuing a major press release, to coincide with one from MIT:

The company’s own materials released Tuesday can be found at their website:

A technical paper was presented at a poster session Materials Research Society’s fall meeting in Boston this week, but copies, and preprints of other papers submitted to major technical journals, won’t be available the publications release them.

The technology is said to combine both the thermoelectric effect and the thermionic effect into one device. Electrons boil off the emitter layer on the hot side, adding to the current from the thermoelectric effect. Instead of a vacuum gap, as in standard thermionic devices, there is a semiconductor layer thermally isolating the hot side from the cold side.

They claim to have already demonstrated efficiencies of 17%, compared with 10% which is the best thermoelectrics can do, and at 250-300 C, not the 1100 C that thermionics converters require.

The company very recently hired a new CEO, a veteran of the semiconductor industry. They expect to do a new private offering in the first quarter of 2002.

I have a small investment in the company, and am well acquainted with the principals. If you would like to make contact I would be pleased to make a personal introduction.