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Old 06-16-2008, 11:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Germans trying to replace Alternator with Thermoelectric Generators or TEGs

The alternator may be a thing of the past:

Here's the link:
Up in Smoke

This is the article:

New technology promising to cut CO2 and save gas

Alternative energy comes from unusual sources -- huge rivers, massive arrays of silicon panels, nuclear reactions, and massive spinning metal blades. But German researchers are getting power from a source that might strike scientists from decades past as particularly peculiar -- they're making power from automobile exhaust gases.

In an era of ultra-expensive fuel and concerns about emissions fueling global warming, the automobile has come under increasing scrutiny with users looking for ways to extend gas mileage and cut emissions. Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a leading German research organization, is developing materials and designs for a thermoelectric generator which will help to solve both problems.

In automobiles, two-thirds of the fuel used is emitted as waste heat. In total, 30 percent of the energy is lost in heat from the engine block and a further 30 to 35 percent is lost to exhaust fumes. Many teams of researchers have began to look at how to recapture some of this heat and heat from similar industrial engines and transform it into electricity. Such devices are known as thermoelectric generators or TEGs for short.

The TEG generator takes a temperature gradient, driven by the difference between the waste heat and the ambient temperature and uses that gradient to produce electricity. Greater temperature differences yield great results. The Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM has a number of thermoelectric materials under development that will harvest this heat in automobiles.

Dr. Harald Böttner, head of the Thermoelectric Systems department states, "The temperatures in the exhaust pipe can reach 700 degrees Celsius or more. The temperature difference between the exhaust pipe and a pipe carrying engine cooling fluid can thus be several hundred degrees Celsius."

The thermoelectric converter the team is developing takes the gradient created by the exhaust gas and uses it to drive charge carriers through a semiconductor. This creates a looped current flow similar to a battery. The technology is relatively straightforward, but the real challenge is finding optimal thermoelectrics with high carrier mobility. The research team is hoping that the device will make the alternator obsolete, providing power to the car's consumer electronics, onboard computers, and charging the battery. Böttner states, "This would make it possible to cut gas consumption by between five and seven percent,"

Researchers point out that with 50 million cars on the road in Germany with an average on-road time of 200 hours a year per car, if only one kilowatt each was produced by the TEGs, this would amount to ten terawatt hours per year.

The researchers are hoping to begin to construct prototypes of their designs very soon.

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Old 06-17-2008, 06:28 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I like this idea. If there was enough current it could even power a hybrid type motor to assist the engine! (which would then cool down due to less work being done and therefore reduce the power output......Dang!!) Anyway, i like where this is going.

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Old 06-17-2008, 10:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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if they could some how harness the heat energy fromt he radiator and exhause .. yeah you could easily power the car and possibly a hybrid motor.. so mush energy is wasted as heat energy in a ICE.
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Old 06-17-2008, 12:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Yeah, BMW is working on this too. I assume they're using Peltier elements (Seebeck effect), as used by NASA on their spacecraft. Currently they're at 200 Watts, but need about 1000 W to be able to ditch the alternator, their guess is time to market 5+X years. It would yield a 5% reduction in fuel consumption.
They're also working on an exhaust-heat-driven expander (steam generator?) mecanically coupled to the crankshaft. It uses 80% of the exhaust heat and reduces fuel consumption by 15%.
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Old 06-17-2008, 01:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Bah, forget that TEG nonsense.

I've got one word for you: Organic Rankine Bottoming Cycle.

It's cogeneration for your car. Take your hot exhaust, run it through a boiler, boil a refrigerant (Florinol 50, usually), run that refrigerant through a turbine coupled to a generator, and get "free" energy from the waste heat.

All these ideas are great, but the capital cost will kill you (not unlike diesels or hybrids).
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It's a great idea, I wonder what the premium would be on cars with TEGS?
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Old 06-17-2008, 03:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Or there's this: http://www.carpages.co.uk/news/tigers-22-09-05.asp which is basically a turbocharger driving a generator.

The question, though, is why mess with band-aid solutions for the inherently inefficient IC engine. Build Stirling engines, coupled to hybrid electric drives for quick startup & acceleration.
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Old 06-17-2008, 03:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krieg View Post
I've got one word for you: Organic Rankine Bottoming Cycle.
This rocks! It got me thinking. If the exhaust is shedding energy to a refrigerant, it would be cooler afterwards. Would it then be possible to either collect the CO2 or change it into carbon particles (with a catalyst?) that could be collected? Or in the case of diesels, collect the soot particles? I'm thinking out loud here!

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Old 06-17-2008, 03:35 PM   #9 (permalink)
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why not just use the coolant system as the heat exchanger .. just like a refrigerant cooled PC.. same for exhaust.. but yeah there is a ton of heat energy lost.. reclaim it and you can at least get more efficient.. the TEG is a great idea as its super low maintance.. no moving parts and pretty fail safe..
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Old 06-17-2008, 03:46 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
Or there's this: http://www.carpages.co.uk/news/tigers-22-09-05.asp which is basically a turbocharger driving a generator.

The question, though, is why mess with band-aid solutions for the inherently inefficient IC engine. Build Stirling engines, coupled to hybrid electric drives for quick startup & acceleration.
Oh God!! You are talking my kind of talk!!!
This is almost within the serious ecomodders scope, no? Now my brain is frying!!

ollie

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