Timon Singh

New Car Engine Generates Electricity From Exhaust Heat

by , 12/06/10

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Even hybrid vehicle engines create emissions, many of which are harmful to the environment. However researchers at Purdue University have created a system that harvests heat from a car’s exhaust in order to generate electricity and reduce the vehicle’s fuel consumption. The innovative engine design has been funded by a $1.4 million, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. The ‘thermoelectric generator’ was created in collaboration with General Motors who hopes to put the prototype into commercial production.

thermoelectric generator, purdue university exhaust engine, purdue thermoelectric generator, general motors thermoelectric generator, Car Engine That Generates Electricty From Exhaust Heat,

According to Xianfan Xu, a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering, that thermoelectric generators (TEGs) can generate an electric current capable of charging batteries and powering a car’s electrical systems. This in turn would reduce the engine’s workload and improve the car’s fuel economy.

The university’s prototype is designed to be installed as part of a vehicle’s exhaust system behind the catalytic converter, and it will harvest energy from the 700 degrees Celsius exhaust gases. According to Xu, current thermoelectric technology cannot withstand the temperatures inside catalytic converters, where gases are about 1,000 degrees Celsius. As a result, the team is working on TEGs capable of withstanding such high temperatures, enabling greater fuel savings. So far the prototype has reduced fuel consumption by five percent, but the team believe that if they can get it to withstand higher temperatures, the reduction would increase to 10 percent.

Researchers at GM are currently using a thermoelectric material called skutterudite — a mineral made of cobalt, arsenide, nickel or iron — to make the prototype. “The biggest challenge is system-level design – how to optimize everything to get as much heat as possible from the exhaust gas,” Xu said. “The engine exhaust has to lose as much heat as possible to the material.” This innovation could truly transform the auto industry, so it is good to see General Motors involved in its development.

+ Purdue University

Via Energy Harvesting Journal

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2 Comments

  1. VishnuGana April 4, 2013 at 5:45 am

    It is a gaint leap,While thinking about this, i got an idea .
    Is there any way we can work with dynamo in car wheel so that we can create electricity through that??? Is that also can be Happened????

  2. Mr. Science March 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Although these kids are doing a great thing….this will never “transform the auto industry” at the rate this helps charging a battery. It amounts to 2mpg on a 40mpg car so far, maybe 4mpg later, and that’s just not enough for a device that will cost at least $2K…which creates a tremendous safety risk by the car then housing an additional, and very large high temp mass.

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