A deal to commercialise tetrahedrite as a thermoelectric waste heat recovery material has been signed by Alphabet Energy and Michigan State University (MSU) in the US.

Don Morelli, a professor of materials science at MSU, explains: ‘In our search for efficient, abundant, and non-toxic thermoelectric materials, we were led to the tetrahedrites, a family of compounds of commonly occurring elements, by theoretical calculations of their properties.’

He added that the naturally-occurring minerals ‘are especially interesting because they combine very low thermal conductivity with unusually good electronic properties.’

Alphabet also recently received two patents related to the manufacture of silicon nanowire-based thermoelectrics.