Prof Kanishka Biswas of the Indian Institute of Science has developed a high-performance thermoelectric material, cadmium-doped silver antimony telluride, which can produce electricity from heat. For this, Dr Biswas has just been named as a recipient of the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award, the highest Indian award for scientific work.
This material uses a phenomenon called ‘Seebeck effect’, which has it that if two dissimilar thermal and electrical materials linked via a junction is given a temperature differential, i.e., one end hot and the other end cold (or room temperature), then an electrical voltage automatically develops across the ends. The challenge has been that the temperature differential can never be sustained, as the entire material would soon become equally hot.
Cadmium-doped Silver antimony telluride, however, can conduct electricity but not heat. As such, any device made with this material can, in-principle, produce electricity if heat is imparted to it–making it an attractive material to tap waste heat wherever it occurs.
Tata Steel is already trying out this material for using some of the blast furnace heat, but there does not appear to be any exclusive arrangement between Prof Biswas and the company. As such, those interested in using that material have an opportunity to do so. This is a technology option for a large industry, or a large MSME.
Those interested might contact Prof Biswas at: firstname.lastname@example.org