Thermoelectric car prototypes in 2009 and in production 2012

GM researcher Jihui Yang indicates that GM has a thermoelectric device that surrounds an exhaust pipe which can 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.

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

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 thermoelectric 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.

Yang’s prototype device is to be tested in a Suburban next year. A similar prototype created by Ohio State scientists and BSST should be tested in a BMW in 2009.

The thermoelectric work was presented at the 2008 Diesel Engine-Efficiency and Emissions Research (DEER) Conference

The conference agenda is here

Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Concurrent Technical Session 7: Thermoelectrics Springwells for Vehicle Applications
John Fairbanks, U.S. Department of Energy, Chair

Potential of Thermoelectrics for Vehicular Applications
John Fairbanks, U.S. Department of Energy

Development of Thermoelectric Technology for Automotive Waste Heat Recovery
Edward Gundlach, General Motors

Development of a 100-Watt High-Temperature Thermoelectric Generator
John LaGrandeur, BSST LLC

Efficiency Improvement in an Over-the-Road Diesel-Powered Engine System by the Application of Advanced Thermoelectric Systems Implemented in a Hybrid Configuration Harold Schock, Michigan State University