Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.35
Liaison Christa Rieck
Submission Date Nov. 23, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University of Houston
IN-1: Innovation 1

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Gabriel Durham
Graduate assistant
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston (TcSUH)

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome :

The Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH (TcSUH) is a multidisciplinary, university-based superconductivity and advanced materials research center with over 200 faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students. In 1987, founding director Paul Chu began a legacy of innovation for the TcSUH by achieving superconductivity at the highest temperatures to date. Since then, the center has been regarded as one of the best superconductivity research facilities in the world impacting many areas of clean energy. See the section below for a groundbreaking innovation released in March 2015.


A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

In March 2015, a research team in the TcSUH led by Zhifeng Ren, PhD, UH physics professor, created a new thermo-electric material known as germanium-doped magnesium stannide. The new material is intended to generate electric power from waste heat with greater efficiency and higher output power than currently available materials.

The material was created through mechanical ball milling and direct current-induced hot pressing. It can be used with waste-heat applications and concentrated solar energy conversion at temperatures up to 300 degrees Centigrade, or about 572 degrees Fahrenheit. Germanium-doped magnesium stannide has a high power factor, at 55 and a low raw material cost of about $190 per kilogram, which makes it more commercially viable than currently used materials. Thus, germanium-doped magnesium stannide offers to not only efficiently capture energy from waste heat, but also make solar energy applications more cost effective.

Typical applications include use in a car exhaust system to convert heat into electricity to power the car's electric system, boosting mileage, or capturing waste heat from a smokestack to power a plant's systems. UH researchers have formed a company called APower together with collaborators at MIT to commercialize the material for thermo-electric devices.


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of 5):
Yes or No
Curriculum No
Research Yes
Campus Engagement No
Public Engagement No
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings No
Dining Services No
Energy Yes
Grounds No
Purchasing No
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water No
Coordination, Planning & Governance No
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work No
Investment No

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
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The website URL where information about the innovation is available :

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.