The Renewable Energy Prize went to Mercouri Kanatzidis, from Northwestern University (USA), for his project Energy Retrieved from Waste Heat by Using Nanostructured Thermoelectric Material. Professor Kanatzidis is an international leader in inorganic and solid state chemistry.
Using nanocrystals to break a 40-year record
The research focuses on the development of new solid state semiconductors able to recover waste heat and convert it directly into electricity. More specifically, the innovation lies in having “nanostructured” the material of these thermoelectric semiconductors, i.e. having added nanocrystals which, at high temperatures, lead to a significant increase in performance. In the course of his work, Professor Kanatzidis broke a 40-year record for efficiency in heat-electricity conversion and the basis was laid for further development, including the implementation of veritable thermoelectric generators. It has been estimated that the technologies that could be developed as a result of Professor Kanatzidis’ work could allow for the recovery of at least 50GW on a global scale.