Potential for incremental improvements in fuel economy
Bengt Halvorson - THECARCONNECTION
- December 29, 2010
More research funding is finding different venues for increased efficiency. Can you put a dollar value on these incremental increases? --Ed.
If you've ever crept along in gridlock and noticed the floor of your car getting a little warm, or 'seen' all the heat energy escaping from a hot exhaust pipe on a cold day, you know that exhaust systems send a lot of heat right out the tailpipe—heat that could potentially be put to use.
What if you could recapture that energy and turn it back into electricity that could be used by vehicle accessories?
As automakers look for incremental improvements in fuel economy, that's one of the potential uses of an advanced thermoelectric material that's being researched by physicists and engineers at the University of Michigan. They've studied the material that could potentially be wrapped around a vehicle's exhaust system and would produce energy that could supplement the vehicle's electrical system—therefore allowing higher mpg.
Such a system could make the most difference in low-speed stop-and-go driving, where exhaust pipes typically heat up and the mechanical load from vehicle alternators has a greater impact on fuel economy; supplemental power from these materials in the exhaust system, along with the newer smart-alternator systems already used in some vehicles, could together significantly ease that load.... [Read More] Thanks for the article, JohnM!