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The Global Energy Prize annually honors outstanding achievements in energy research and technology from around the world that are helping address the world’s various and pressing energy challenges.

Electricity from geothermal water: Thorsteinn Sigfusson to discover a groundbreaking technology

The Global Energy Prize laureate, Thorsteinn Sigfusson, discovered a groundbreaking way to produce electricity from low temperature geothermal water in a small scale. The technology is based on a micro-binary method and contains a number of novelties.

Recall that the Global Energy Prize acknowledged Thorsteinn Ingi Sigfusson in 2007 for his project “Research and development to implement hydrogen energy generation in Iceland”. Professor is an internationally renowned specialist in the alternative energy sources. He has made a great contribution to research of using low temperature geothermal reserves for electric power and heat generation.

His latest project has proved to be a success: recently the start-up company XRG – Power that was initiated by Thorsteinn Sigfusson showed that their XRG generator could produce electricity from hot water well below boiling point of water. This technology has been developed in cooperation with the Innovation Center in Iceland. The XRG generator used hot water from a regular tap in Reykjavik and was able to produce 1200W, with a flow of 0,3 liters per second of 70° C water.

The company XRG – Power was founded early 2015, but the development of the generator started in the summer 2014 when Thorsteinn Ingi Sigfusson, director of the Innovation Center Iceland, came up with the idea of finding a way to run telecommunication masts in remote areas with a more environmentally friendly solution than the diesel generators. That is how XRG-Power started to work on XRG generator.

The company was chosen to participate in the business accelerator Startup Energy Reykjavik, spring 2015, with the possibility to receive funding, mentoring and advice from specialists at Klak-Innovit and the Iceland Geothermal cluster. It has also received grants from Rannis Technology development fund and the Entrepreneurship fund of Islandsbanki.

According to Thorsteinn Sigfusson, there are many potentials for the XRG generator both in Iceland and abroad. There are many areas around the globe with access to low heat geothermal water, which is not hot enough for the more traditional steam turbine geothermal power plants.

One of the novel applications of the XRG generator concerns using it for turning exhaust heat from fishing boat engines into electricity to power various uses for electricity onboard the vessels.

Speaking on the technology, Professor Sigfusson underlines: “– I am grateful to my colleagues in the Intellecta Telecom Services in Russia who had presented me the challenge of trying to power antenna systems for cellphones that would be able to work in remote areas. The first goal of the development of the XRG system was to be able to power such antennas in the remote interior of geothermal Iceland.

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