Liten is a major European research institute and a driving force behind the development of the sustainable energy technologies of the future. The institute is spearheading the EU’s efforts to limit dependency on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in three key areas: renewable energy, energy efficiency/storage and development of materials.
Our platforms, sophisticated tools for industry & the scientific/technical infrastructure/expertise to overcome technological hurdles
Liten's research teams work across a vast portfolio of renewable energy technologies. Cutting-edge photovoltaic technologies are developed at INES, the French National centre for solar research and R&D with Hydrogen and Biomass activities being managed from the LITEN's main site in Grenoble, Rhone-Alpes.
“Radically improving energy efficiency will reduce the need for investment in energy infrastructure, cut fuel costs, increase competitiveness, lessen exposure to fuel price volatility, increase energy affordability for low-income households and cut local and global pollutants improving consumer welfare” Source OECD Energy report, 2014
From nanosecurity, nanocharacterisation,and anti-counterfeiting technology to the development of advanced materials and point of sale: a comprehensive offering.
Transverse activities help add value to our technology portfolio. An optimised modeling and characterisation model, for example, can help reduce time to market. Browse this section to find out more....
Article | Energies | Energy efficiency | Electric vehicles | Processes, transport, green IT
High-temperature thermoelectricity for energy-efficient processes: addressing industry’s energy-recovery challenges
Recovering waste heat from industrial processes and transforming that heat into energy can help reduce a plant’s carbon footprint. Waste-heat-to-energy conversion is a pillar of the emerging “factory of the future” movement. And Liten—which has been working on thermoelectricity for energy recovery since 2012—is driving advances in thermoelectric materials and energy conversion.
Many industrial processes involve high-temperature steps. Once the heat has served its purpose it is easy to recover and convert into energy using thermoelectricity. However, most of the time that heat simply goes to waste. Our energy-recovery research is of interest to the glass, metallurgical, and aerospace industries, as well as to industrial engineering firms that build turnkey factories. Liten was involved in the creation of a startup that specializes in the development and manufacturing of medium- and high-temperature thermoelectric materials and modules to encourage energy recovery from industrial motors and processes. Joint research carried out over a three-year period enabled the two project partners to bolster their knowledge of materials and high-temperature applications.
Our researchers are also looking at possibilities beyond merely recovering raw energy. Recovered energy can be used to power autonomous sensors at the heart of industrial processes—a prime example of the kinds of systems that will be found inside the factory of the future. Our researchers were able to test a demonstrator system in real-life conditions with partner Rio Tinto. Each project is unique and requires custom development work to ensure that the systems meet reliability and robustness requirements for the harsh environments specific to certain industries, where resistance to high temperatures, airborne substances, electromagnetic fields, and contact with molten metal must be ensured.
And, in all our research and development work, we strive to replace rare and toxic materials like lead and telluride (targeted by the EU REACH regulation) with silicides such as silicon-germanium (SiGe) for very high temperatures (in excess of 500 °C, or in some cases 800 °C) and MnSi combined with MgSi(Sn) for medium temperatures (300 °C to 500 °C). Our research generally begins with a feasibility and technical and economic viability assessment tailored to the manufacturer’s environment and requirements. Then, depending on the electric power to be generated, our researchers determine the size and cost of the thermoelectric system that would be required. The next step is prototyping according to specifications and, finally, testing and validation of the system in real-world conditions.
The drive to recover energy and reuse it at the source to reduce the carbon footprint of industrial processes is a very current topic, and one that will remain at the forefront of the factory of the future.
A broad spectrum of research and development activities from theory to testing demonstrator systems at an actual factory.
Know-how encompassing the entire value chain, from materials to modules to complete thermoelectric systems.
Direct heat-to-electricity conversion for immediate energy savings and new applications like powering sensors to run industrial processes.
Robust, effective, and non-polluting materials.
A technology was transferred to HotBlock OnBoard, a spinoff of the CEA founded in 2012. The company now commercializes a solution to recover waste heat in the transportation and manufacturing industries.
Joint research with Rio Tinto on the “wireless factory” and the “factory of the future” that involved installing thermoelectric systems at “hot” points of industrial processes; the heat was used to generate electricity to power sensors (temperature, heat flow, etc.) to run the processes.
We are also involved in the Phims project, funded by the French National Research Agency. The project is looking at silicide of manganese (MnSi) and its thermoelectric properties; the material offers the advantage of being very affordable and therefore compatible with industrial markets.
Around 20 researchers
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.