Thermoelectric generator may convert heat from car exhaust pipes into electricity

June 4th, 2008 - 4:54 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 4 (ANI): Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM are trying to make a thermoelectric generator that will convert the heat from car exhaust fumes into electricity.

The researchers believe that a system capable of feeding the energy into the cars electronic system may help cut fuel consumption, and reduce the CO2 emissions from motor vehicles.

The temperatures in the exhaust pipe can reach 700 degrees Celsius or more, says Dr. Harald Bottner, 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 researcher added.

Bottner revealed that the idea was to make use of such huge differential with the help of a thermoelectric converter.

The researcher said that driven by the flow of heat between the hot exhaust fumes and the cold side of a coolant pipe, the charge carriers would pass through special semiconductors, thus producing an electric current similar to a batterie.

Bottner said that the research teams long-term aim was to make the alternator superfluous, and to supply energy to the constantly rising number of power consumers in the car.

According to Bottner, TEGs might cover a significant proportion of a cars power requirements.

This would make it possible to cut gas consumption by between five and seven percent, said Bottner.

The researchers are still in the experimentation phase at present, but they plan to build the first prototypes very soon. (ANI)

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