University of South Africa
Overview of innovation

A system which harvests thermal energy from various sources such as sunlight, cars, power plants, factories and other industries, and converts it into electricity. The harvested heat energy is stored in a storage tank, with water used as an energy storage medium. This then flows along a gradient to an energy radiator, and a portion of the thermal energy is converted into electrical energy utilising a special semiconductor array device. To ensure maximum harvesting and conversion efficiency, the system runs cycles both during the day and at night, creating a continuous supply of electricity to household appliances.

Although photovoltaic (PV) technology supports global energy demand and the quest for low carbon emission technology, the cost of PV technology is still high (R2.50 per kWhr over 10 years), and efficiencies of commercially available systems are still low (approximately 10% efficiency). Moreover, energy is stored inexpensively, in high-tech battery systems, and PV cells are active only during peak solar irradiation hours during the day. Thermal energy harvesting systems, however, are much more efficient in terms of the collection (approx. 90%), thermal energy can easily be stored in water, and the systems are extremely cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Our system is able to harvest and store thermal energy at a very low cost (R0,10 per kWhr). The stored heat is used for supplying hot water in household applications, while about 30% of the harvested thermal energy can be converted to electricity through specially developed semiconductors and electronic control technology. 

Type of Intellectual Property protection
Innovation Opportunity Type
​Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply
Green Energy
Energy Management Technologies
Technology Readiness Level
TRL 3 – Proof of concept created