Membrane Contactor for Harvesting Power/Electricity from Low Grade Heat

Wageningen University & Research is looking for partners to develop and to demonstrate on lab scale an innovative and awarded membrane technology for highly efficient conversion of heat into power / electricity.

Large amounts of industrial waste heat are lost each year. Potentially, this is a promising energy source if it can be harnessed. Although economically viable processes for recovering medium-grade (232 °C < T < 649 °C) and high-grade (T > 649 °C) waste heat are available, a significant fraction of this energy source exists as low-grade waste heat at temperatures below 100 °C. Identifying a means of converting this thermal energy source into electrical energy in a way that makes economic sense has proven difficult.

WUR has developed the patented and awarded MemPower® technology to simultaneously produce power (electricity) and high quality water (e.g. drinking water) from any aqueous feedstock using low grade heat (solar heat, waste heat, etc.). Based on closed-loop MemPower®, a Thermo-Osmotic Energy Convertor (TOEC) can be made. This generator allows a highly efficient conversion of low temperature waste heat into electrical energy.

Project objective

The objective is to develop and demonstrate an innovative membrane contactor for conversion of waste heat into power / electricity. The membrane contactor to be developed will combine several functions of a power cycle in one device: evaporation, condensation, pressurisation (driving a turbine). This means a closed loop version of WUR’s patented MemPower® technology.

Various activities are foreseen:

  • Working fluid selection, evaluation and optimisation
  • Membrane selection evaluation and optimisation
  • Module design, development, evaluation and optimisation
  • Experimental demonstration and evaluation of the Key Performance Indicators in lab tests
  • Process modelling and design
  • Conceptual cost estimations

We are looking for partners to develop an innovative membrane technology for conversion of waste heat into power / electricity and its process integration. End users from various markets for heat and electricity production are especially invited. In addition, we are looking for innovative membrane and system suppliers. Partners are asked for both cash and in kind contribution.