Energy efficiency has become a major issue for industrialized countries since they are now striving to reduce:
Recent studies have evaluated the losses of low temperature industrial heat into the environment (so called “waste heat”). Apart from their impact on their environment, these losses are an economic issue since waste heat represents 600 GWh/year for France only.
Many countries face the same situation. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory publishes every year an estimation of primary energy use in the United States with a split per energy forms and use. This studies shows that 56% of the energy was wasted in 2011, mostly as low temperature heat.
This study moreover shows that industry is not the only final user involved. Electricity generation, transportation, housing and tertiary activities represent in fact the largest share.
Several existing technologies already enable to convert waste heat into electricity, but none of them provide a sufficient level of satisfaction in terms of combined efficiency, cost, volume required and electric power produced.
In this context, Ferroenergy was created in 2011, aiming at developing a disruptive technology to convert heat into electricity.
Ferroenergy originates from preliminary research conducted within MINES-Paristech research laboratories since 2009. Its technology relies of the use of an Olsen cycle: a thermodynamic cycle first described in the 1980’s which generates electricity by applying temperature and electric field cycles to a ferroelectric material.
However the experimental setup proposed to exploit this very interesting principle is difficult to transpose at an industrial scale. The starting idea of Ferroenergy has been to replace the solid ferroelectric thin films of the original setup with a fluid. This fluid made of ferroelectric nanoparticles suspended in a liquid medium is called a colloidal suspension: it behaves both as a liquid in terms of its mechanic characteristics and as a solid in terms of its electric characteristics. The fluid nature of this material allows the use of common heat exchanger technologies, exchanging heat with an ordinary water hot source and an ordinary water cold sink.
Ferroenergy technology has many assets:
Ferroenergy opens new perspectives for industrial energy efficiency and beyond to many different application where no viable alternative to valorize low temperature heat exists.