Phononic Devices, a maker of thermoelectric coolers and generators, has just raised $10 million in a second round of financing. Although thermoelectric technology has been around for decades, the technology has always been expensive and inefficient. Phononic believes they have the solution to modularize the technology to more quickly integrate it into consumer electronics such as your laptop and consumer appliances such as your refrigerator.
Thermoelectric cooling is often explained as "solid-state heat pumps." The technology captures wasted heat and converts it into energy and thus can maintain cool temperatures by displacing heat. Current refrigeration relies on the use of large air compressors that are noisy and expensive compared to the actually cooling they can provide. Replacing them with thermoelectric technology could save consumers tons on energy bills and definitely make an environmental impact. GE may have already jumped on the bandwagon with their recent acquisition of Calnetix, a company also focused on this technology.
"The idea is to take advantage of the very same quiet, compact, lack of moving parts [traits] that thermoelectric devices already have, but introduce a materials system with more efficiency," says Phonic CEO Anthony Atti. The company will be creating and testing prototypes for commercialization and plans to bring products to market by 2013.