Researchers in Spain are testing a system that aims to convert wasted heat from industrial complexes and apartment buildings to power.

According to a report from the UK-based Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), a team at the University of Navarre has developed the system based on the so-called Seebeck effect, which uses the temperature difference between two dissimilar conductors or semiconductors to produce electricity.

Team lead Patricia Aranguren was quoted as saying: ‘The generator was fitted to the flue outlet of a boiler used to heat water. It comprises 48 thermoelectric modules, two heat exchange systems and other devices. The net optimum generation of electricity amounts to an output of 100 W/m2.

‘Net maximum electrical power of 136.77 MWh/year was obtained and is the equivalent of the energy used every year by 40 homes.’

The researchers say their system requires very little maintenance and should feature a long operational lifetime.