US scientists have created a new heat engine that works without moving parts. Demonstrations have shown that it converts heat into electricity with an efficiency of more than 40%. This is better than a traditional steam turbine, which is on average 35% efficient. New engine was developed by engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Actually, the engine is a thermophotoelectric element (TPV), similar to the photocells of a solar panel. It passively captures high-energy photons from a hot heat source and converts them into electricity. The development can generate electricity from a source with a temperature of 1900-2400 ° C or 4300 ° F.

According to the researchers, the thermal battery system will absorb excess energy from renewable sources such as the sun and store it in securely insulated jars of hot graphite. When energy is needed, for example on cloudy days, TPV cells convert heat into electricity and supply it to the network.

Along with TPV elements, the team has already successfully demonstrated the basic parts of the system in separate, small experiments. They are working on integrating the parts to show the full working system. In addition, they hope to expand it to replace fossil fuel power plants and create a decarbonized energy network that supplies only renewable energy.

TPV elements in the experiments had an area of 1 cm²For the thermal battery system, they must be the size of a quarter of a football field and operate in climate-controlled warehouses. The developers note that the infrastructure for the production of large photovoltaic cells already exists. It can be adapted to manufacture TPVs.

“The technology is safe, environmentally benign in its life cycle, and can have a tremendous impact on abating carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production,” the researchers said.