Pyramp is engaged in the development of new technologies that have the potential to play a significant role in addressing the climate crisis. 

The team at Pyramp – a soon-to-be spun-out venture from TU Dublin – has developed a thermophotovoltaic (TPV) technology to generate electricity from industrial waste heat. 

Spearheading the transformation of waste heat into electricity, Pyramp’s innovative thermophotovoltaic (TPV) technology offers a modular, low-maintenance solution for high-temperature industries like cement, steel, glass, and ceramics.

Pyramp emerged from a groundbreaking collaboration in 2019, leveraging Iftekhar Hussain’s PhD research. Key milestones include successful market validation, securing funding, and gaining traction with major industry players in the cement and glass industries.

Strategic edge in high-temperature processes

Addressing the challenge of 'difficult to abate' emissions, Pyramp’s TPV technology converts industrial waste heat into electricity efficiently. The modular design and patented spectrally selective emitter material give Pyramp a strategic edge in high-temperature processes.

TPV devices operate quite similarly to solar PV, except instead of using solar energy, heat is converted into electricity with a superior energy density. 

“We are addressing a key sustainability issue,” says Hussain. “We are the only company to offer heat to electricity generation at temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Celsius. We are the hottest startup in Ireland!

“Instead of converting visible light to electricity, TPV converts the infrared part of the spectrum. And while the sun is around 150 million kilometres from the earth, our system can be placed as close as one metre away from the heat source. With solar, you can get 200 watts per square metre of panels on a good sunny day. With TPV you can get 12 to 20 kilowatts. It’s an order of magnitude higher than solar PV.”

"We go beyond mere heat recovery; we actively contribute to the sustainability of high-temperature industries," says Hussain. 

Questions and answers

  1. Will a TPV device take energy from the process I care about? “Not if the location is appropriately selected. TPV converts Infrared light into electricity and so by design aims to minimise the absorption of heat from hot gasses.”
  2. How resilient is the device, what is the lifetime? “In the application for TPV there is very little UV. The lifespan depends on the location. So long as the device is designed to tolerate the environmental (dust, cycles, corrosion, etc) then a lifetime comparable to that of photovoltaic cells, i.e. circa 20 years, can be expected.”
  3. What is the power density and efficiency? “The power output and efficiency depend on the temperature of the heat source, the distance it is from the Pyramp device and the surrounding air temperature at the device. For cement, the power density is expected to be ~4kW/m2 and for glass this can be as high if not higher than 12kW/m2. Theoretical models for steel indicate similar power densities to glass.
  4. At what temperature range can a TPV operate? “If the heat source is hot enough it will emit light, the hotter the heat source the higher the efficiency. Generally, the system power break-even point occurs at ~1000°C but this can be lower if the hot gases surrounding the device are colder. A suitable temperature range at this time is limited to between 1000°C and 1600°C.”

Key statistics

  • High-temperature process industries reject approximately 50% of their thermal energy into the environment as waste heat;
  • Cement, steel and glass industries are motivated to meet emission reduction targets because they are responsible for approximately 20% of the world’s CO2 emissions;
  • Pyramp can cause 1,200 million tonnes less carbon to be emitted into the atmosphere by 2050 if we succeed in recovering the waste heat from the world’s 3400 cement, steel and float glass plants;
  • A Pyramp panel has approximately 50 times more energy density than any solar PV module;
  • Waste heat recovery market is estimated to be approximately $60bn/year that is growing by 9% each year.

Originally from Bangladesh, Hussain has been working in the renewable energy area for some years and studied at the University of Kingston in London before coming to Ireland in 2014 to begin work on a PhD at TU Dublin.

Having developed and patented a material to improve the efficiency of solar PV systems, he began to look at the potential commercial application of TPV for industrial waste heat recovery. “We received Commercialisation Fund support [from Enterprise Ireland] in 2021.

"That allowed us to start derisking the technology and to deploy small prototypes to test in industrial settings. In 2023, we were approved for a second round of funding to further de-risk the technology. We are hoping to spin out the company in the second quarter of this year. We hope to have a system ready for the market by late 2025.” 

“The Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund has been a lifesaver,” says Hussain. “They gave us the funding to start developing the product. That was the first time we saw the system with our own eyes. It was only theory before that.”