Northwater Backs RedWave Harvesting Heat With Antennas
(Corrects attribution in sixth paragraph.)
Northwater Capital Management Inc., a Canadian private equity investor, is backing startup RedWave Energy Inc.’s efforts to convert industrial waste heat into electricity using nanomaterials.
Northwater invested $1 million this month and provided $2 million last year through a Series A financing round, according to RedWave Chief Executive Officer James Nelson. The company will seek funding through a Series B round this year after starting work on a prototype that may be tested in power-plant conditions.
More than half of the energy produced in the U.S. in 2011 was wasted, including heat from industrial operations and generating electricity, according to estimates from the U.S. Energy Department’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Glen Ellyn, Illinois-based RedWave will take advantage of this energy that otherwise goes unused, said D’Arcy Walsh, a Northwater associate.
“The conversion of waste heat to electricity presents a huge opportunity, and it’s a much underserved market,” Walsh said by telephone today. Waste heat generated in the U.S. each year “has a value somewhere north of a trillion dollars.”
The value of heat wasted at power plants alone may be as much as $136 billion a year, Nelson said.
RedWave uses so-called nano-antennas developed by the Energy Department that work much like radio or TV antennas to collect infrared energy, Nelson said. The flexible sheets are made from common metals such as nickel and capture “low temperature” waste heat, temperatures below about 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit).
Flue gases emitted from smokestacks are one source of low-grade waste heat at power plants that is “more than hot enough” to produce power with RedWave’s system, Nelson said.
“We can go after much lower temperature, and that’s where the abundance of waste heat is,” Nelson said.
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