[Image above] Alphabet Energy’s “proprietary advancements in silicon and tetrahedrite” make thermoelectric materials—often cost-prohibitive—viable in its industrial-scale generator that converts waste heat to electricity. Credit: Alphabet Energy

There have been a lot of “world’s firsts” around here lately—world’s first 3D-printed car, world’s first around-the-world solar flight, world’s first self-cleaning car, and world’s first solar battery—which can only mean one thing: We (ahem, I) need a new way to describe these kind of firsts. 

Can you allow me one last cliché before I come up with something a bit more earth shattering?

Alphabet Energy’s thermoelectric generator certainly isn’t the world’s first, but according to the company, it takes the crown for “the world’s most powerful.”

A company release reports that their “proprietary advancements in silicon and tetrahedrite” make thermoelectric materials—often cost-prohibitive—viable in the E1, which connects to an exhaust stack and converts waste heat to electricity.

Alphabet Energy, founded in 2009 at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, says that its E1 thermoelectric generator can pump out 25 kWe per 1,000 kWe engine for an annual savings of 52,500 liters of diesel fuel per engine.

“People have been trying to make an industrial-scale thermoelectric generator for a long time,” says CEO and founder Matthew L. Scullin in the press release. “Customers want waste-heat recovery solutions that are simple pieces of industrial equipment rather than complex power plants.”

“With the E1, waste heat is now valuable,” he adds. “Saving fuel has the potential to be one of the biggest levers a company has in reducing operating expenses.”

There are other waste-heat recovery options out there, of course, but the “groundbreaking” materials science that fuels E1’s under-the-radar operations—i.e., two-hour connection time with no modifications to the engine, no moving parts, no working fluids, and minimal maintenance—make it “ideally suited” for a host of industrial applications in the most remote of settings. (Check out the finer points of E1 in the video from Alphabet Energy below.)

E1 has undergone “extensive” customer testing, and the company reports that they’ve received multiple orders for the unit. And though this might be Alphabet’s first product offering, it’s certainly not their last. A series of waste-heat recovery products serving the automotive, mining, aerospace, and industrial communities are just around the bend.

As always, you can expect that we’ll keep you up to date on any developments, though I can’t make any promises that they won’t be “world’s first” worthy.

Credit: Alphabet Energy; YouTube