One avenue that’s been receiving a lot of interest recently is thermoelectric power generation, a process where electricity is generated from wasted exhaust gases. Some of the leaders in this field include BMW, Volkswagen and Honda, and already we’ve seen prototypes that offer improvements in fuel economy of around 5%.
Now, a Paris-based company by the name of heat2power hopes to improve the efficiency of internal combustion engines by also capturing wasted heat from a car’s exhaust. According to heat2power, only around 30% of the energy released by burning fuel is actually used for moving a car’s wheels. The other 70% is lost through radiation, the cooling system and the exhaust system, the latter two of which account for around 65% of total energy used.
By developing new technology that reduces the amount of energy wasted on the exhaust system, heat2power can reclaim around one-third of the energy typically lost on the exhaust and recycle it to be used for propulsion.
The result of this shift of energy is improvement in overall efficiency for internal combustion engines. In fact, heat2power is claiming that its technology will result in fuel savings from around 15 to 35% in all driving conditions, with similar reductions predicted for C02 emissions figures.
To gain this extra efficiency, only minor modifications are necessary. The engine block and architecture remain the same, while the power outputs are also left untouched. In the interest of full disclosure, however, heat2power does admit that the weight of the cars will be slightly affected. Nevertheless the technology is compatible with all fuel types, as well as with electric hybrid vehicles.