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Wasted Electricity

tetrahedrites

Wasted Electricity

The use of tetrahedrites in thermoelectric technology could mean less waste in energy creation.

Dr. Donald Morelli, chairperson and professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, studies thermoelectric technology. The technology is an environmentally friendly method of harvesting and recovering heat, and then converting that heat into electric energy. Simply put, it is taking waste heat sources and turning them into electricity.

The problem with finding thermoelectric generators, however, is that they are often expensive, rare and inefficient.

In 2018, Morelli was honored at the Innovation Celebration for the use of tetrahedrites in thermoelectric technology. The mineral “not only combines important physical properties, but it is made from earth-abundant materials,” Morelli said. Tetrahedrites are naturally occurring minerals that can be synthesized in a lab. They also have very low thermal conductivity with good electronic properties.

The discovery of tetrahedrites is an integral step in the process of creating a lowcost, widespread technology for converting heat to electricity, and the less waste in energy creation, the better.

Author: Liam Boylan-Pett

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