Nov 262010
 

(Photo: Purdue/Mark Simons)

The energy crisis has certainly catalyzed a great deal of thought about how we harvest all that energy we previously wasted.

The petroleum-burning internal combustion engine has traditionally leaked energy from the exhaust system in the form of heat, but new ThermoElectric Generator (TEG) research at Purdue University aims to yield as much as a ten percent reduction in fuel consumption by converting heat from the exhaust into electricity. It is hoped that the thermoelectric research will eventually lead to other methods of turning waste heat into electricity in homes and power plants, new and more efficient solar cells and perhaps even a solid-state refrigerator.

The project begins on January 1 and will be led by Purdue professor of mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering Xianfan Xu, who has been collaborating with General Motors in the field of thermoelectric research for a decade.

The electricity generated by a TEG can be used to charge batteries and run the car’s electrical systems, cutting-back the engine’s workload and resulting in better fuel economy.

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