Saving energy is big business these days and automobiles are a prime target for savings because two-thirds of the energy from fuel is wasted in the form of heat - about 30 percent through the engine block and a further 30 to 35 percent as exhaust fumes.
Researchers are working on a thermoelectric generator that converts the heat from car exhaust fumes into electricity. The module feeds the energy into the car’s electronic systems. This cuts fuel consumption and helps reduce the CO2 emissions from motor vehicles.
There is clearly a great need for thermoelectric generators (TEGs). These devices convert heat into electrical energy by making use of a temperature gradient. The greater the temperature difference, the more current TEGs can produce.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM are developing thermoelectric materials, modules and systems to harness the residual heat in automobiles.
“The temperatures in the exhaust pipe can reach 700 degrees Celsius or more,” says Dr. Harald Böttner, head of the Thermoelectric Systems department. “The temperature difference between the exhaust pipe and a pipe carrying engine cooling fluid can thus be several hundred degrees Celsius.”
The thermoelectric converter makes use of this huge differential: Driven by the flow of heat between the hot exhaust fumes and the cold side of a coolant pipe, the charge carriers pass through special semiconductors, thus producing an electric current similar to a batterie.
The long-term objective is to make the alternator superfluous and to supply energy to the constantly rising number of power consumers in the car. TEGs could cover a significant proportion of a car’s power requirements: “This would make it possible to cut gas consumption by between five and seven percent,” says Böttner.
A simple calculation will illustrate how important it is to increase the energy efficiency of cars: There are about 50 million licensed motor vehicles in Germany, each of which is – as a basis for an estimation – on the road for an average of 200 hours a year. If their waste heat was utilized by TEGs during that time, with an output of one kilowatt sufficient to power parts of vehicle electronics, this would add up to ten terawatt hours of energy per annum – a significant contribution.
The researchers are still in the experimentation phase at present, but they plan to build the first prototypes very soon.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Cosmic Rays Jeopardize Deep-Space Astronaut Missions
- Great Earthquakes Doubled In The Most Recent 10 Year Period - What That Means
- What Americans Fear Most Isn't Ebola Or Terrorism, It's...
- Science Left Behind: The Anti-Vaccine Update Update
- Slavery In America: Back In The Headlines
- Why Climate 'Uncertainty' Is No Excuse For Doing Nothing
- Most Published Medical Research Is False - But It Can Be Better
- "This is really good to know. Very good point at the end that it is about helping people set better..."
- "Vaccination of any type was associated with *increased* risk of a CNS ADS onset within the first..."
- "Good comment shining genji, but some people do not need fancy arguments to uphold their status..."
- "The terms you use repeatedly and your circlic logic reeks of one religious group, maybe you just..."
- "why are you in all the arguments? Teach me how to get into more arguments. Also, teach me wft to..."
- An end to fat shaming? The 50 year DNA mystery of metabolic dysfunction may soon be solved
- Egg freezing: a smart career move?
- Women carry fetal DNA long after children’s birth
- Despite resistance, China will dominate future of GMOs
- Should Science and Nature run advertorial by wacky Dr. Bronner’s that misleads on GMOs?
- Jack the Ripper’s identity remains a mystery after error in DNA analysis revealed
- Teenage self-harm linked to problems in later life
- Unsteady on your feet? Little touches could make all the difference
- Promising blood biomarkers identified for colorectal cancer: Is a screening blood test within reach?
- Studies must be carried out to determine whether exercise slows the onset of type 1 diabetes in children and adults
- Clot dissolver tPA's tardy twin could aid in stroke recovery