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November 23, 2009

Researchers develop tool to tap natural heat for more energy

Washington: Efficient large-scale power generation from geothermal and other low-grade heat sources may now be viable, thanks to a revolutionary new technology.

A team led by Behdad Moghtaderi, professor at the University of Newcastle Centre for Energy, worked with Granite Power Ltd (GPL) to develop the technology platform called Granex.

It delivers higher efficiencies than conventional power plants and increases the quantum of power that can be generated from low-grade natural heat and industrial waste sources.

A 100-kilowatt pilot plant set up at the varsity will enable a comprehensive power generation programme over a wide range of operating conditions.

"The one kilowatt model was a great success and demonstrated a 40 percent improvement in terms of thermal energy efficiency and power generation," Moghtaderi said.

"It demonstrated for the first time an effective and economically viable technology platform for power generation from low-grade heat sources. This has allowed us to scale up the project to the 100-kilowatt pilot plant.

"Our work from here will allow us to establish the parameters to design and build a power plant of any size based on the Granex concept and put to use valuable heat sources that would otherwise be wasted."

Moghtaderi said, if harnessed, geothermal and waste heat energy could be used to meet the demand of a huge continent like Australia for years to come, said a varsity release.

"Geothermal energy has clear environmental advantages over other renewable energy sources as it has no CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions and can provide base load electricity," Moghtaderi said.

GPL managing director Stephen de Belle said the "existing recovered industrial waste heat market and the growing demand for low-cost, green, base load geothermal power means there is a large and increasing market internationally for Granex." IANS

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