A startup that makes materials that can convert heat into electricity plans to develop a solar hot water heater using its materials that could go on sale next year. The solar water heater, which can produce electricity as well as hot water and heat, will be the first product from GMZ Energy, which announced on Wednesday it has raised a $14 million funding round.
These types of materials are called thermoelectrics, and a variety of startups and researchers are looking at ways to incorporate thermoelectrics into devices to boost power capacity of systems and to make these devices more efficient. Other thermoelectric startups include Alphabet Energy, newcomer Silicium Energy, Phononic Devices, Transphorm, and Applied Methodologies.
Solar products are a natural fit for thermoelectric materials, as getting the sun’s rays from the point of the panel or mirror to the point of useful electricity is an inefficient process. Trying to capture any heat wasted in the system can make the solar power process more efficient. Transphorm has teamed up with Enphase Energy to develop a solar power conversion device.
GMZ Energy raised its $14 million funding round from a lot of well-known names including Mitsui Ventures, I2BF Global Ventures, Energy Technology Ventures (the JV from GE, NRG Energy and ConocoPhillips), Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and BP Alternative Energy. Transphorm is backed by Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Foundation Capital, Lux Capital and George Soros’ investment fund Quantum Strategic Partners. Phononic is funded by Venrock and Oak Investment Partners. Alphabet Energy has money from TPG Biotech, Claremont Creek Ventures and CalCEF Clean Energy Angel Fund.
A lot of these companies are using nanotechnology, and specifically carbon nanotubes and silicon nanowires, to produce these thermoelectric materials. GMZ also is using nanotech to produce the materials that will be embedded in the solar hot water heater, as well as used for other applications in the auto and industrial sectors.
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