Geothermal power plants could become more productive and widespread by using Power Chips, a new nano-scale technology for converting heat directly into electricity. Geothermal power is a clean, renewable process whose growth has so far been restricted by limited access and high initial start-up costs.Gibraltar – September 24, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] Geothermal power plants could become more productive and widespread by using Power Chips, a new nano-scale technology for converting heat directly into electricity. Geothermal power is a clean, renewable process whose growth has so far been restricted by limited access and high initial start-up costs. According to Power Chips, a majority-owned subsidiary of Borealis Exploration Limited that could change by making lower temperature geothermal resources a viable target for exploration. About 2800 MW of geothermal energy are currently produced in the United States, with several times as much capacity currently untapped. Accessing this power, however, has relied on identifying certain areas where the shifting of tectonic plates beneath the earth’s surface provides easy access to hydrothermal resources. Once a suitable location has been identified, high-temperature water and steam can be captured directly or passed through a heat exchanger to vaporize a secondary fluid that spins a turbine. Power Chips have the potential to offer high efficiency power generation from available heat, and produce power at temperatures lower than typically required for successful plant operation. They are capable of enhancing output and reducing cost per kilowatt at existing plants, while allowing the construction of small, high efficiency facilities in areas considered inadequate for production using current power generation solutions. In a presentation at the Geothermal Resources Council 2002 Annual Meeting in Reno, Nevada, Sean Kilgrow of Power Chips outlined these benefits to members of the geothermal industry. Power Chips are wafer-thin discs designed to produce electrical power more efficiently than other available technologies by taking advantage of an effect known as thermotunneling, harnessing quantum mechanical electron tunneling phenomena. Thermotunneling occurs when hot electrons (those with the most energy) travel between electrodes spaced less than 20 nanometers apart, creating a usable electric current. Power Chips are small, solid-state devices and are scalable as arrays that can be designed to match any available heat source. The technology is protected by an extensive patent portfolio covering general theory and specific techniques for thermotunneling and thermal energy conversion.