Clean, reliable power through thermophotovoltaic energy conversion.
David Bierman and Prof. Andrej Lenert completed their Ph.D.s from MIT in mechanical engineering. While at MIT, they developed a novel solar-driven thermophotovoltaic (TPV) converter that is capable of harnessing the entire solar spectrum for power generation. Their research, under the supervision of Prof. Evelyn Wang and Prof. Marin Soljacic, helped revitalize the field and established the current world record for solar-to-electrical conversion efficiency for this technology. Andrej is currently an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and serves as a technical advisor to Marigold Power.
David founded Marigold Power after the work on solar TPV led to numerous academic publications, most recently in Nature Energy (2016) and Nature Nanotechnology (2014). This effort was named one of the “Biggest Clean Energy Advances in 2016” and one of the “10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2017” by the MIT Technology Review following the team’s demonstration of the first solar TPV device to generate more power than the underlying photovoltaic cell would on its own. This work has also been featured in a number of media outlets, including Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, MIT News, and more.
Critical need: The primary power needs of the U.S. electricity sector are currently met by large-scale, centralized mechanical heat engines. Demand for remote or distributed power, however, cannot be met by these established technologies, which, fundamentally, cannot scale down. The absence of cost-effective, modular, continuous power solutions at the sub-megawatt scale precludes the future development of an efficient, sustainable electricity grid.
Technology vision: We are developing a durable thermophotovoltaic (TPV) platform that converts a wide variety of energy sources to electricity. This platform will enable solutions for a range of applications, from utility-scale solar power generation to residential combined heat and power systems.
Current state-of-the-art: Thermophotovoltaics are a relatively underdeveloped technology, despite a remarkably simple operating principle. Previous device demonstrations have been hindered by high-temperature instability, materials degradation, and insufficient spectral control.
Key innovation: To build upon our state-of-the-art converters, Marigold Power is continuing to develop solutions to these challenges by merging innovations in nanophotonics, photovoltaics, and robust thermal engineering.
Competing technology: Commercially available solutions for continuous power delivery at sub-megawatt scales primarily exist in the form of diesel and natural gas generators, and solar photovoltaics combined with electrical battery systems. These systems can be costly to install and maintain and typically have lifetimes between two and eight years. Other solid-state heat engines, such as thermoelectric and thermionic generators, aim to fill the same technology gap but currently cannot compete with these existing solutions.
First market hypothesis: Our thermophotovoltaic power conversion platform opens the door for a wide array of potential applications and markets. Some examples include remote, continuous pumping operations in the agriculture and oil and gas industries.
Potential for impact: A widespread adoption of our efficient, robust thermophotovoltaic platform would redefine how we think about power generation. For example, miniaturization of a Combined Heat and Power plant down to the residential scale has the potential to save over five quadrillion BTUs of primary energy consumption annually, which would result in a 10% reduction in CO2 emissions from the U.S. electricity sector.
We're looking for:
- Technical collaborators
- Joint development partners
- Technoeconomic analysis
- Team members - scientist, engineers
- Team members - business
Previous work on solar-driven thermophotovoltaic converters:
MIT Technology Review: “10 Breakthrough Technologies” (2017)
MIT Technology Review: “Biggest Clean Energy Advances in 2016” (2016)
MIT NEWS: "Hot new solar cell" (2016)
Scientific American: "New Hybrid Solar Device Exploits the Best of Both Worlds" (2014)
IEEE Spectrum: "Thermophotovoltaic Device Has Potential to Reach Huge Solar Efficiencies" (2014)
David Bierman (david [at] marigoldpower [dot] com)