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Heat-Pipe Assisted Thermoelectric Generators for Exhaust Gas Applications

[+] Author Affiliations
L. M. Goncalves, Jorge Martins, Joaquim Antunes, Romeu Rocha, Francisco P. Brito

Universidade do Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal

Paper No. IMECE2010-40926, pp. 1387-1396; 10 pages
  • ASME 2010 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 5: Energy Systems Analysis, Thermodynamics and Sustainability; NanoEngineering for Energy; Engineering to Address Climate Change, Parts A and B
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, November 12–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4429-8
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


Millions of hybrid cars are already running on our roads with the purpose of reducing fossil fuel dependence. One of their main advantages is the recovery of wasted energy, namely by brake recovery. However, there are other sources of wasted energy in a car powered by an internal combustion engine, such as the heat lost through the cooling system, lubrication system (oil coolers) and in the exhaust system. These energies can be recuperated by the use of thermoelectric generators (TEG) based on the Seebeck effect, which transform heat directly into electricity. To recover the energy from the hot (up to more than 700 °C) exhaust gases it is possible to use controlled heat transfer, but this would limit the heat transfer potential at partial loads, as commercialy available TEG are limited by their maximum allowable temperature (∼250°C). Therefore Heat Pipes were used as an alternative heat transfer mean, so it would be possible to retain the heat transfer potential, while controlling the maximum temperature at a reasonable level. This is the method to recover the exhaust heat presented in this work. Numerical simulations were performed to assess the potential for this design, involving internal combustion engine simulation, thermoelectric generators simulation and heat transfer modelling. Additionally, the use of variable conductance heat pipes (VCHP) is discussed, as a means of achieving TEG module maximum temperature limitation.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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