Ammonia-based battery system to convert low-grade waste heat into electricityGizmag, December 7, 2014
As modern power generation methods are designed to squeeze the most power from the least amount of fuel, engineers are constantly looking at techniques to improve efficiency. One way to achieve this is to scavenge waste energy left over from the production process to capture and convert low-grade heat into usable energy. In pursuit of this goal, engineers at Pennsylvania State University have produced an ammonia-based battery that not only captures and converts waste heat economically and efficiently, but is claimed to do so at a greater capacity than other similar systems.
Waste heat is a consequence of all powered mechanical work and energy generation and – depending upon the efficiency of energy conversion – may produce a large amount of heat that is simply lost to the atmosphere via cooling towers or engine exhausts. This is particularly true of coal and nuclear power plants that generate high temperatures in the production of electricity, and consequently large amounts of low-grade heat. The Thermally Regenerative Ammonia Battery (TRAB) created by the Penn State engineers is designed to capture this waste heat, wring out its remaining energy and store it for later use.