Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

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Thread: Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

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    Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

    Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power
    By MARGARET HARDING | Associated Press Writer
    August 10, 2008

    WARREN, Mich. - The stinky, steaming air that escapes from a car's tailpipe could be an answer to using less gas.

    Researchers are competing to meet a challenge from the U.S. Department of Energy: improve fuel economy 10 percent by converting wasted exhaust heat into energy that can help power the vehicle.

    General Motors Corp. is close to reaching the goal, as is a BMW AG supplier working with Ohio State University. Their research into thermoelectrics -- the science of using temperature differences to create electricity -- couldn't come at a better time as high gas prices accelerate efforts to make vehicles as efficient as possible.

    GM researcher Jihui Yang said a metal-plated device that surrounds an exhaust pipe could increase fuel economy in a Chevrolet Suburban by about 5 percent, a 1-mile-per-gallon improvement that would be even greater in a smaller vehicle.

    Reaching the goal of a 10 percent improvement would save more than 100 million gallons of fuel per year in GM vehicles in the U.S. alone.

    "The take-home message here is: It's a big deal," Yang said.

    The DOE, which is partially funding the auto industry research, helped develop a thermoelectric generator for a heavy duty diesel truck and tested it for the equivalent of 550,000 miles about 12 years ago.

    John Fairbanks, the department's thermoelectrics technology development manager, said the success of that generator justified the competitive search in 2004 for a device that could augment or replace a vehicle's alternator. Three teams were selected to participate in the program, with GM and thermoelectrics manufacturer BSST separately working on cars and a team from Michigan State University focusing on heavy-duty trucks.

    Fairbanks said thermoelectric generators should be on the verge of production in about three years.

    "It's probably the biggest impact in the shortest time that I can think of," he said.

    The technology is similar to what NASA uses to power deep space probes, a perk being it doesn't seem to be susceptible to wear. Probes have used a thermoelectric setup for about 30 years.

    Thermoelectric devices can work in two ways -- using electricity to provide heating or cooling, or using temperature differences to create electricity.

    The second method is Yang's focus, and for good reason.

    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.

    "If I can use some of that heat energy and convert it to electricity, you can improve the overall efficiency," Yang said.

    A Suburban produces 15 kilowatts of exhaust heat energy during city driving, which is enough to power three or four air conditioners simultaneously.

    But it's not possible to harness all the exhaust heat a vehicle produces, so when the Suburban is cruising between 50 and 60 mph, the generator can produce about 800 watts of power, Yang said. That electricity could go to accessories such as a GPS device, DVD player, radio and possibly the vehicle's water pumps.

    SOURCE / Full Article

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    Re: Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

    Nice!

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    Re: Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

    Thanks! I love it when creative people respond to a challenge with new thinking then act on it.
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    Re: Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

    Going to need someone with more knowledge of engines to eplain to me how you lose 40% of power to exhaust heat?? That seems to make ICE's extremely inefficient, but nice to see them looking at new ways to save fuel, maybe they will come up with some kind of storage device to store the power it makes to run some things in the car

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    Re: Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

    only increases mog by 1mpg in a chevy suburban, thats not much of a return on investment as far as i am concerened. To me i would only invest in something that tripples the mpg of an automobile

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    Re: Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb02 View Post
    only increases mog by 1mpg in a chevy suburban, thats not much of a return on investment as far as i am concerened. To me i would only invest in something that tripples the mpg of an automobile
    tripling? are u serious? i guess you wont be investing in anything ever

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    Re: Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

    Here is a completely different approach:

    BMW Developing Steam Assist Drive Based on Waste Heat Recovery


    BMW Group Research and Engineering is developing a steam-powered auxiliary drive—called the Turbosteamer—that uses the waste heat present in the exhaust gases and cooling system from a conventional gasoline engine as its source of power.

    In tests with a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine, the new auxiliary power unit reduced fuel consumption by up to 15% while generating nearly 14 additional horsepower and 20 additional Nm of torque.

    The Turbosteamer is based on the same principle as the steam engine: heated fluid forms steam in two circuits which is used to power the engine.

    The primary energy supplier is the high-temperature circuit which uses exhaust heat from the internal combustion engine as an energy source via heat exchangers. More than 80% of the heat energy contained in the exhaust gases is recycled using this technology, according to BMW.

    The steam is then conducted directly into an expansion unit linked to the crankshaft of the internal combustion engine. Most of the remaining residual heat is absorbed by the cooling circuit of the engine, which acts as the second energy supply for the Turbosteamer.

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    Re: Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

    How much would it cost to take 500lbs of weight out of Suburban?

    A unit body Suburban(rather than a Lambda) could show 1mpg improvement easily.

    How about a current Suburban with an aluminum frame, much like the Z06?

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    Re: Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

    Quote Originally Posted by b4z View Post
    How much would it cost to take 500lbs of weight out of Suburban?

    A unit body Suburban(rather than a Lambda) could show 1mpg improvement easily.
    A unibody Suburban would be a Lambda, only stretched and taller with a V8, adding more weight and drag and losing any fuel economy advantage the Lambdas have.

    How about a current Suburban with an aluminum frame, much like the Z06?
    How about an $80,000 Suburban LS? The frame of a truck is the last place you want to use aluminum. I could see an aluminum body, but that would put off some customers.
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    Re: Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

    Quote Originally Posted by b4z View Post
    How about a current Suburban with an aluminum frame, much like the Z06?

    The truck is too heavy for structural aluminum. The frame would sag, and develop cracks within a few years. Also, you wouldn't be able to haul or tow anything.

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    Re: Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick_VT View Post
    Going to need someone with more knowledge of engines to eplain to me how you lose 40% of power to exhaust heat?? That seems to make ICE's extremely inefficient, but nice to see them looking at new ways to save fuel, maybe they will come up with some kind of storage device to store the power it makes to run some things in the car
    An ICE is a completely inefficient power producer. To understand the losses you have to look at the flywheel hp as the net result. To find the true power created by the igniting of fuel in the combustion chamber you have to add things like the heat energy that raises the temperature of engine 500 degrees and the hot exhaust that gases leaving the engine. Since energy cannot be created or destroyed, the energy loss to heat, the temperature of the exhaust gases, and the hp generated at the flywheel must all add up to the initial energy contained in the gasoline.

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    Re: Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb02 View Post
    only increases mog by 1mpg in a chevy suburban, thats not much of a return on investment as far as i am concerened. To me i would only invest in something that tripples the mpg of an automobile
    So you don't think hybrids or fuel cells are worth investing in?

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    Re: Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

    I was wondering when somone would invent this, I would always dreamup ways of doing this, but back then the closest thing I could find to something like this was called an entropy engine.

    But I guess it turns out the space probes already used it... right on.

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    Re: Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

    Quote Originally Posted by Joevette View Post
    tripling? are u serious? i guess you wont be investing in anything ever
    what i am saying is that if the chevy suburban now gets lets say 12mpg and then you add this technology and then it gets 13mpg or even 15mpg then it still is not anything near the newer 35mpg plus that congress just passed and the epa says dur to other laws mpg maybe actually be higher then 35mpg that congress just set.. So even if the chevy suburban gets 15mpg thats a far cry from 35mpg that many people want now due to high gas prices. I say we should redo cafe and have a law that says every automobile a company makes from a big rig to a chevy aveo must get 35mpg

    also with diseal who would of thought that they would being using animal pee to clean the emissions. maybe they could find other uses for human and animal byproducts to clean up the engine emissions and maybe even power the car like in back to the future movie with mr fusion taking common garbage to fuel the delorian
    Last edited by Caleb02; 08-10-2008 at 06:07 PM.

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    Re: Researchers work to turn car's exhaust into power

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick_VT View Post
    Going to need someone with more knowledge of engines to eplain to me how you lose 40% of power to exhaust heat?? That seems to make ICE's extremely inefficient, but nice to see them looking at new ways to save fuel, maybe they will come up with some kind of storage device to store the power it makes to run some things in the car
    The thermodynamic Otto cycle is extremely inneficient. The transformation of heat to mechanical work depends of temperatures. To achieve maximum efficiency in the exhaust phase, the 4th phase must have the same temperature of the intake phase, which is one of the biggest thermodynamic challanges of humanity.

    1st phase of the ICE is compression, where you have to apply mechanical work, air gets compressed so it increases its temperature. Then 2nd phase, isometric heatment, where heat enters to the system. The difference of temperature in the 2nd and 3rd phase produces heat waste, heat that doesn't transform into mechanical work. 3rd phase, Isotropic expansion, here is where you get the output of mechanical work, useful energy. 4th phase, isometric cooling, heat not transformed in work goes to the atmosphere.
    Sorry China, we'll buy your disposable electronics and lead coated toys, but when we Americans want a cheap car with horrible quality, we get a Chrysler.
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