Climate-friendly energy from waste heat

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Andreas Sichert and Wolfgang Brand, executive directors of Orcan Energy, in fron

Andreas Sichert and Wolfgang Brand, executive directors of Orcan Energy, in front of their product, which produces electricity from waste heat. Image: Orcan Energy AG

Technology Transfer Prize of the German Physical Society awarded to TUM

The German Physical Society (DPG) is jointly awarding its Technology Transfer Prize to the start-up Orcan Energy, the Chair of Energy Systems of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the TUM Patents and Licenses team. This recognizes the successful research, patent registration and product launch of a technology that converts waste heat into electrical power.

Every day enormous quantities of energy go to waste in industry and the transportation sector. Waste heat is generated in production processes and by motors. To utilize this heat, a team at the TUM Chair of Energy Systems has developed a new technology that can be used to generate power in factories, combined heat and power (CHP) stations, on ships and in many other industrial processes.

The easy-to-install module uses a technology similar to that of traditional steam-driven turbines. Instead of water, however, it uses an organic fluid with a lower boiling point. This principle, referred to as the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC), was used by the team to develop a technology that makes efficient use of small quantities of waste heat with relatively uncomplicated equipment.

The Patents and Licenses team in the TUM Office for Research and Innovation (ForTe) filed the first patent applications for the technology on behalf of TUM with the support of the Bavarian Patent Alliance. In 2008 Richard Aumann, Dr. Andreas Sichert and Dr. Andreas Schuster established Orcan Energy and acquired the patents. They now hold more than 100 patents and have since turned the start-up into a company with around 60 employees. Orcan Energy has already sold more than 200 modules worldwide that have generated a total of approximately 30 gigawatt hours of power with no CO2 emissions. This makes the company the world’s leading supplier of ORC energy technology.

The DPG Technology Transfer Prize will be presented on March 31, 2020 at the annual conference of the German Physical Society in Bonn. In 2016 TUM selected the founders as the winners of its Presidential Entrepreneurship Award.

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