MicroPower Global is a private company that has developed a groundbreaking form of thermoelectric technology that can convert heat directly into electricity far more efficiently than current alternatives. Unlike most thermoelectric products, MicroPower’s devices are capable of working at relatively high temperatures (250°C to 600°C), enabling their application across a vast array of different industries.
Having purchased the intellectual property in 2008, MicroPower has spent the last seven years perfecting the technology for commercial use at its research and development base near Austin, Texas. The company is now working with partners, suppliers and customers to bring products to market at a purpose-built production facility just a few miles from the initial R&D base. Find out our full history here.
The technology already has widespread patent protection (44 patents issued or filed globally) and the resulting increased efficiencies have been independently validated by recognized sources, including the US National Institute of Standards and Technology. Indeed, there is an entire chapter dedicated to the technology in the Thermoelectrics Handbook, an industry recognized guide to the latest developments in this area, and MicroPower’s material is routinely described by customers and partners as the best available in the thermoelectrics world.
What do we do?
We produce advanced semiconductor devices that generate electricity when heat is applied to one side, and the other side remains significantly cooler. The material is grown, then sliced and diced into 2mm² chips which are connected to one another and sandwiched between two ceramic plates, producing a thermoelectric module. To find out more about this, have a look at our technology section.
There are two key areas of application: creating heat (typically using a fuel-based system) to generate electricity when you can’t connect to the grid and batteries aren’t suitable; and making use of wasted heat from an existing process to generate electricity. You can also input electricity into these devices to generate solid-state cooling, for which there are many applications, but this is not a current focus for us.
What markets do we serve?
We are in the process of developing a range of products to sell to a variety of markets, with a focus on portable, off-grid power, generating heat from a variety of sources and using our modules to convert that heat to electricity, for both military and consumer markets.
The other key area in which we are working with a number of partners is the development of waste heat recovery devices, either to increase electrical generating capacity in conventional power plants, waste recycling plants, and for combined heat and power units, or to reduce the critical cost of power in energy intensive industries such as cement, chemicals and steel manufacturing.
Our key performance characteristics
In-house production of world-class base material, enabling high efficiency and high temperature operation.
UPLIFT IN PERFORMANCE
A proprietary “barrier layer” is applied to the base material using an MBE tool that yields a significant increase in efficiency.
HIGH ENERGY DENSITY
Energy conversion 3-4 times more efficient than current alternatives, and extremely high energy density.
Like all thermoelectric devices, the lack of moving parts means you get a product that’s not going to wear out or fail.
Reduced size and weight creates scalability to tackle multiple markets from very small to very large applications.
Semiconductor design allows for efficient modular manufacturing for long life, low maintenance and lower production costs.