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New opportunities found to generate electricity from waste heat

Eideard

Zhifeng-Qian
Zhifeng Ren, left, and Qian Zhang

Physicists at the University of Houston’s physics department and the Texas Center for Superconductivity are working on an innovation that could boost vehicle mileage by 5 percent and power plant and industrial processing performance as much as 10 percent.

Their research uses non-toxic materials – tin telluride, with the addition of the chemical element indium – for waste heat recovery.

Telluride has been studied for years, said Zhifeng Ren, M.D., professor of physics at UH and lead author of a paper describing the work…

But earlier work faltered because lead-containing telluride, despite its strong thermoelectric properties, can’t be used commercially because of the health risks associated with lead, Ren said.

That has sparked the rush for a similar, but safer compound…

Qian Zhang, a research associate in Ren’s group who designed the experiment, said she ultimately decided to add another element, known as a…

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