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Thermo-photovoltaic record claimed

An Ipswich based firm has claimed a record for the efficiency of thermo-photovoltaic (TPV) cells.

CIP Technologies said its research project, in partnership with the University of Oxford and Wafer Technology, has delivered energy conversion efficiencies up to 12 per cent.  This compares to 9 per cent from existing, commercially available devices.

TPVs are similar to solar cells, but operate at infrared rather than visible wavelengths, generating electricity directly from heat. They have applications in waste heat recovery from industrial plant such as blast furnaces, combined heat and power (CHP) generation and domestic boilers, as well as silent mobile power generation.

The cells produced by the consortium are based on indium phosphide (InP) materials, rather than the more traditional gallium antimonide. According to CIP, the materials offer higher efficiency, low cost and fabrication using industry-standard processes.

The group is now working on a second-generation cell design with a more complex, multi layer construction that is designed to improve infrared capture.

This is expected to extend energy conversion efficiencies to over 15 per cent, significantly widening the range of viable applications for the technology.