Electricity generated from exhaust promises 10% efficiency gain

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Electricity generated from exhaust promises 10% efficiency gain

Electricity generated from exhaust promises 10% efficiency gain

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The rising cost of oil is making expensive fuel-saving technologies more and more viable as prices continue to go upwards at the pumps. Researchers at the Ohio State University and at Caltech in California have developed a method of increasing fuel efficiency by 10% using a special material that converts exhaust heat into electricity.

Dubbed 'thermoelectric' material, the lead researcher for the project described it as performing the same task as "conventional heat engines that are coupled to electrical generators" but instead of using water or gases to make electricity it uses electrons directly.

Currently, conventional automobile engines only use around 25% of the energy they process in actually operating the car, with the remainder not being utilized. This revolutionary new material eliminates a portion of the wasted energy that cars are unable to use due to inefficient energy processes - although the technology itself is not completely new, having been used by NASA previously.

With a timeline for market release in the range of five to ten years, the system could be implemented for as little as $10 per unit if produced in large enough quantities - a factor which would be determined largely by automobile companies.

BMW is working on a very similar system, and Honda at one point developed its own version but does not appear to be continuing its research.
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Comments (8)
  1. You pictured a Gallardo with this article. It gets, what, 10-12 mpg if the driver feathers the throttle? So a 10-percent gain is a whopping 1.2 mpg (being generous). This car costs, oh, the moon. IOW, I don't think Gallardo owners will be holding their breath hoping this development arrives soon.

    Seriously, paraphrasing the old cliche, 10-percent here and 10-percent there and soon you're talking real percentages.

  2. The Gallardo was pictured for its rather attractive tailpipes, not its fuel efficiency.

  3. Not in the LP560, James. It's already improved significantly at the pump. Which means more improvement!

  4. How many of the people who can afford a Lambo actually worry about being able to buy the fuel for it?

  5. it's not so much the owner/operators of the lambos that are concerned with final drive efficiency but the company itself which may have to levy very large fines as early as 2011 because the EU is going to clamp down on CO2 emissions.

    and then the owners will care when they have to pay $40,000 more on their lambo purchase just to offset the fines (cause god nows that lambo won't be dipping into the profits from the lupo and golf sales)

  6. chris, once again, nails it.

  7. Lambo can afford to pay the fines, like Porsche does, since it is one of the most profitable car manufaturers.

  8. The discovery of thermoelectricy goes way back and it is not credited to NASA . I use thermoelectric couples attached to multimeters to run labs every year. Many others have been thinking about using the difference in temperatures in the oceans to produce electricity able power cities for quite some time. Willian Thomson, Lord Kelvin, predicted the thermoelectric effect in 1851. If the "new" thermoelectric technology is to be applied to hybrid (gas-electric) cars, then the heat engine efficiency could translate into gas mileage gains indeed (the article does not explicitly state this). However, I wouldn't be so sure about the gas mileage gains in the numbers the aricle says. Hybrid technology adds reasonable weight to cars for electric motors and coupling gears are usually very heavy stuff; and the heavier the car the lower the gas mileage. On the other hand, the hybrid version of any car today will be more expensive than the ordinary car simply because hybrid cars have more parts... :-)

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