March 8, 2011   source: GreentechEnterprise

– “When you are looking at waste heat, there is an interest if there is a very fast payback of less than two years when you are thinking of the stationary-furnace-type industries” said Paul Straub –

Activity has been perking up in a once-obscure area. Here’s the report from ARPA-E.

Earlier this month, Venrock and Oak Investment Partners invested $10 million in Phononic Devices’ approach to waste heat recovery. But North Carolina-based Phononic isn’t the only waste heat startup that recently attracted new capital.

In late February, Dresser-Rand invested $10 million in Echogen Power Systems for a 20% stake in the Ohio company. Based in Akron, Echogen (formerly known as reXorce Thermionics) is a 20-person, pre-revenue firm working to commercialize thermodynamic waste heat recovery systems that use supercritical carbon dioxide (ScCO2) as their working fluid.

“Supercritical CO2 has significant benefits in its energy density. It is a benign fluid that operates at high thermal efficiencies,” said Michael Persichilli, Echogen’s VP of Business Development, at the 2011 ARPA-E Summit. “We can provide a waste heat recovery system that takes up about 50% of the space of conventional systems at about a 30% lower capital cost and can operate over the lifecycle of a plant at less than four cents per kilowatt-hour on a levelized cost of electricity basis.”

For the past year, Echogen has been beta-testing its first demonstration unit, a 250kW system, with AEP at the utility’s facility outside Columbus, Ohio. By the end of 2011, Echogen plans to have a much larger, commercial-ready system available.

“Waste heat [recovery] could be a huge market,” said Yanev Suissa of New Enterprise Associates. “The problem is that you usually have to co-locate. If you are taking waste heat off of an electricity production facility, then you are fine, because you are tied to the grid. In other applications, you…have to take into account the transmission, which usually makes it not economically viable. If you are co-locating, then how big is your market?”

Echogen is targeting large markets: and large energy-intensive industries including steel, cement, glass, and pulp and paper.

Paul Straub“When you are looking at waste heat, there is an interest if there is a very fast payback of less than two years when you are thinking of the stationary-furnace-type industries” said Paul Straub of Claremont Creek Ventures, an investor in waste heat recovery startup Alphabet Energy. “If you are looking at longer paybacks, it is challenging to have someone sponsor what is a relatively large cap-ex project.”

According to Echogen, its system costs range from $2,000 to $2,500 per kilowatt of net power available, or $2 to $2.5 a watt — far below the cost of traditional waste heat converters, but above the $1 a watt targeted by Alphabet Energy. (Alphabet grew in part out of research conducted at UC Berkeley by ARPA-E director Arun Majumdar.)

“Our payback depends on the offset cost of power,” said Persichilli. “If you are looking at an average cost of power at six cents per kilowatt hour, the payback is approaching three years on a simple payback analysis without taking advantage of energy tax credits. If you are looking at a coastal state where the cost of power is 10 to12 cents, the payback is less than two years.” …

Read the full article at GreentechEnterprise