Researchers to Harness Exhaust, Save Gasby Tim Manni
The Department of Energy has issued a challenge: increase fuel economy 10% by converting the heat lost through a vehicle’s exhaust pipe into power:
In an internal combustion engine, only about a quarter of the total energy from gasoline is used to actually turn the wheels, while 40 percent is lost in exhaust heat and 30 percent is lost through cooling the engine. That means about 70 percent of the available energy is wasted, according to GM.
Researchers studying thermoelectrics, the study of using heat differences to create electricity, have developed a system that will install a metal plate around the exhaust pipe that can capture the heat lost through the exhaust fumes. Currently, General Motors and BMW claim prototypes of their products will be available in 2009.
GM said their prototype could increase fuel economy in a Chevy Suburban by five percent, a one-mile-per-gallon improvement, and will be even more efficient in smaller vehicles. If GM can meet the DOE’s challenge, the auto maker’s researchers say a 10% improvement could save more than 100 million gallons of gas per year on just their vehicles alone.