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Technische Universität München

Climate-friendly energy from waste heat


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Climate-friendly energy from waste heat

Technology Transfer Prize of the German Physical Society awarded to Orcan Energy and TUM

The German Physical Society (DPG) is jointly awarding its Technology Transfer Prize to the start-up Orcan Energy, the Chair of Energy Systems of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the TUM Patents and Licenses team. This recognizes the successful research, patent registration and product launch of a technology that converts waste heat into electrical power.

Every day enormous quantities of energy go to waste in industry and the transportation sector. Waste heat is generated in production processes and by motors. To utilize this heat, a team at the TUM Chair of Energy Systems has developed a new technology that can be used to generate power in factories, combined heat and power (CHP) stations, on ships and in many other industrial processes.

The easy-to-install module uses a technology similar to that of traditional steam-driven turbines. Instead of water, however, it uses an organic fluid with a lower boiling point. This principle, referred to as the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC), has been used in large power plants for some time. However, there has been a lack of technology that makes efficient use of small quantities of waste heat with relatively uncomplicated equipment.

More than 100 patents

The Patents and Licenses team in the TUM Office for Research and Innovation (ForTe) filed the first patent applications for the technology on behalf of TUM with the support of the Bavarian Patent Alliance. In 2008 Richard Aumann, Dr. Andreas Sichert and Dr. Andreas Schuster established Orcan Energy and acquired the patents. They now hold more than 100 patents and have since turned the start-up into a company with around 60 employees. Orcan Energy has already sold more than 200 modules worldwide that have generated a total of approximately 30 gigawatt hours of power with no CO2 emissions. This makes the company the world's leading supplier of ORC energy technology.

The DPG Technology Transfer Prize will be presented on March 31, 2020 at the annual conference of the German Physical Society in Bonn. In 2016 TUM selected the founders as the winners of its Presidential Entrepreneurship Award.

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Every year TUM files patent applications for around 70 inventions by its scientists. TUM ForTe Patents and Licenses provides advice and support on protecting intellectual property rights and exploiting patents. Teams planning to launch new technologies on the market receive support from TUM and UnternehmerTUM, the Center for Innovation and Business Creation, which offer programs for every phase of the start-up process. The TUM Incubator can provide office space for up to 30 teams preparing launch companies. With its own UVC venture capital fund, UnternehmerTUM invests in promising technology companies and offers them access to MakerSpace and Bio.Kitchen, a 1,500 square meter high-tech workshop for building prototypes and a biotech laboratory. Every year more than 70 technology-based companies are established at TUM.

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is one of Europe's leading research universities, with around 550 professors, 42,000 students, and 10,000 academic and non-academic staff. Its focus areas are the engineering sciences, natural sciences, life sciences and medicine, combined with economic and social sciences. TUM acts as an entrepreneurial university that promotes talents and creates value for society. In that it profits from having strong partners in science and industry. It is represented worldwide with the TUM Asia campus in Singapore as well as offices in Beijing, Brussels, Cairo, Mumbai, San Francisco, and São Paulo. Nobel Prize winners and inventors such as Rudolf Diesel, Carl von Linde, and Rudolf Mößbauer have done research at TUM. In 2006, 2012, and 2019 it won recognition as a German "Excellence University." In international rankings, TUM regularly places among the best universities in Germany.

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