Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Feasibility/Demonstration of 600 Watt TPV for Gas Furnace CHP(ST10239-1)

DURABLE Systems, Inc.


Thermophotovoltaic electricity generation (TPV) is based on the photovoltaic (PV) conversion of infrared radiation. The infrared radiation is generated by heating an appropriate emitter. In most systems this is done by the combustion of fossil fuels. The main technological challenges of TPV energy conversion are: highly efficient fuel to radiation conversion, photon management and spectral shaping, and efficient infrared photovoltaic radiation conversion. Incorporating TPV generation within residential and commercial heating appliances, particularly for warm-air furnaces and hot water boilers fueled with natural or propane gas, enables the generation of electrical power (from infrared radiation emitted from any radiator) in heating appliances. The electricity generated on board can be used to: 1) self-power the appliance, 2) reduce immediate demand within the home or commercial building, and 3) potentially feed energy back into the electrical utility grid (i.e. distributed generation). Two primary limitations that have impeded the progress of TPV systems are: 1) the long term stability of the emitter (radiator material) and 2) the lack of low cost semiconductor cells with bandgaps that could be tuned to capture and convert the infrared radiation into electricity.

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Project Description

The project team of DURABLE Systems Inc., STARFIRE Systems Inc., and the Center for Future Energy Systems at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) are developing various TPV system components that can be integrated with existing home furnaces to deliver 600 watts DC power. The design will include a combustor/emitter burner (Durable), selective radiation materials coating the emitting surface (Starfire), and tunable multi wavelength bandgap semiconductor photovoltaic devices (RPI) to optimize overall system performance.


TPV generation of electricity in a warm air furnace or hot-water boiler provides a wide range of energy and environmental benefits. Residential operation of a basic self powered furnace/boiler could displace 150-950 kilowatt hours of electrical grid power and 200 - 600 watts of demand when compared to a conventionally powered unit. TPV self powered furnaces also offer residents the security of being able to heat their homes in the event of a grid failure. Each year there are substantial numbers of areas across the state that suffer days, and occasionally weeks, without utility power. Having a TPV powered heating system could avoid household displacement and economic loss.

Project Results


DURABLE Systems, Inc.
Po Box 239
Gardiner, NY 12525

Principle Investigator

Curtis Colopy

Universities Involved

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Project Type:

Product Development

Technologies Types:

Building Systems
Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning

NYSERDA Contact Information

Bryan Berry


R&D - Innovation & Biz Dev

Contract Details

Start Date: 1/11/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST10239-1

Last Updated: 5/14/2014