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New technology promising to cut CO2 and save gas

Alternative energy comes from unusual sources -- huge rivers, massive arrays of silicon panels, nuclear reactions, and massive spinning metal blades.   But German researchers are getting power from a source that might strike scientists from decades past as particularly peculiar -- they're making power from automobile exhaust gases.

In an era of ultra-expensive fuel and concerns about emissions fueling global warming, the automobile has come under increasing scrutiny with users looking for ways to extend gas mileage and cut emissions.  Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a leading German research organization, is developing materials and designs for a thermoelectric generator which will help to solve both problems.

In automobiles, two-thirds of the fuel used is emitted as waste heat. In total, 30 percent of the energy is lost in heat from the engine block and a further 30 to 35 percent is lost to exhaust fumes.  Many teams of researchers have began to look at how to recapture some of this heat and heat from similar industrial engines and transform it into electricity.  Such devices are known as
thermoelectric generators or TEGs for short.

The TEG generator takes a temperature gradient, driven by the difference between the waste heat and the ambient temperature and uses that gradient to produce electricity.  Greater temperature differences yield great results.  The
Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM has a number of thermoelectric materials under development that will harvest this heat in automobiles. 

Dr. Harald Böttner, head of the Thermoelectric Systems department states, "The temperatures in the exhaust pipe can reach 700 degrees Celsius or more.  The temperature difference between the exhaust pipe and a pipe carrying engine cooling fluid can thus be several hundred degrees Celsius."

The
thermoelectric converter the team is developing takes the gradient created by the exhaust gas and uses it to drive charge carriers through a semiconductor.  This creates a looped current flow similar to a battery.  The technology is relatively straightforward, but the real challenge is finding optimal thermoelectrics with high carrier mobility.  The research team is hoping that the device will make the alternator obsolete, providing power to the car's consumer electronics, onboard computers, and charging the battery.  Böttner states, "This would make it possible to cut gas consumption by between five and seven percent,"

Researchers point out that with 50 million cars on the road in Germany with an average on-road time of 200 hours a year per car, if only one kilowatt each was produced by the TEGs, this would amount to
ten terawatt hours per year. 

The researchers are hoping to begin to construct prototypes of their designs very soon.



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RE: Turbo
By AlmostExAMD on 6/6/2008 11:42:13 PM , Rating: 2
Agree, I was almost laughing until I realised what they are trying to achieve, Thought it was just another fancy name for a turbo kit. lol
I just hope that it can be implemented in such a way that there is no ludicrous weight added to the car and also cost.
5-10% doesn't sound much but that is quite substantial considering that an internal combustion engine is roughly 25-30%(Don't quote me,Not up to date on engine efficiency) The other 70% is wasted.
Looking forward to seeing this making it to general public.


RE: Turbo
By wallijonn on 6/10/2008 9:57:27 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Thought it was just another fancy name for a turbo kit.


Instead of thinking exhaust gases driving blades, which would directly replace the alternator, think of wires around a nail, as heat is applied to the nail electricity is generated. I tend to think of it as wires around the exhaust pipe, or a long nail inside the exhaust pipe with wires around it. The 500 degree exhaust at the catalytic converter end will cause electricity to be formed. The wires could then go from inside the catalytic converter to outside the rest of the exhaust pipe.

You'd have one end of the battery terminal at the catalytic end and the other end from the end of the tailpipe.


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