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Rensselaer licenses efficient, heavy-duty solar power technology

By David Schwartz
Published: June 13th, 2012

A team Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers aim to help reduce reliance on fossil fuels with a new solar power technology that uses superconducting magnets to more effectively convert sunlight into electricity. Most notable for its lack of moving parts and its ability to function in higher temperatures through a novel cooling system, the RPI technology has been licensed to Concentrating Solar Power Utility, whose founder Thomas P. Kay co-invented it alongside Rensselaer professors Douglas Chrisey and Yoav Peles.

“In developing this technology,” says Kay, “the use of the extremely large superconducting permanent magnets will improve efficiency, and this is even more so when combined with the micro-channel cooling process developed by Professor Peles.”

According to Kay, “because of the higher temperature, [our technology] is more efficient than other types of solar thermal technologies that work at a much lower temperature.

The laws of thermodynamics tell us that to generate power from a heat source, such as burning fuel, the higher the temperature, the more efficient it will be. And that is the key advantage of this green technology.”

Ron Kudla, executive director of the Rensselaer Office of Intellectual Property, Technology Transfer and New Ventures, says of the recent licensing deal: “This is an excellent example of progress under The Rensselaer Plan in the area of clean energy and technology transfer that demonstrates Rensselaer’s unique strength in its ability to translate scientific discoveries into practical application.”

This year, Rensselaer’s TTO expects licensing revenues and patent reimbursements to rise above $1.7 million, building on a steady annual growth of more than 18% since 2002, when the university only generated around $62,000. Since 2000, over 1,200 inventors have filed invention disclosures to the office, with 200 patents issued overall and more than 70 active licenses today.

Source: Power Engineering

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