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Increasing Energy Efficiency in Vehicles by Harvesting Wasted Engine Heat

[+] Author Affiliations
Emrah Celik, Mutabe Aljaghtham

University of Miami, Miami, FL

Paper No. IMECE2018-88253, pp. V06BT08A038; 5 pages
  • ASME 2018 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 6B: Energy
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, November 9–15, 2018
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5208-8
  • Copyright © 2018 by ASME


Nearly 75% of energy produced by fuel is eventually rejected to the environment and ultimately goes unused in terms of waste heat in motor vehicles. A promising method of reclaiming energy waste is to use thermoelectric (TE) energy harvesters which are multi-material solid-state devices that convert a thermal gradient directly into electric potential. In current automotive applications, waste heat recovery systems using TE are only limited to integration on exhaust pipes to convert hot exhaust gases into electricity. In this study, we explored the use of TE materials in the shape of a car oil pan to utilize the temperature difference of hot engine oil and cool outside air and convert this temperature gradient into electricity. In this study, we performed finite element simulations to optimize the geometry and the quantity of thermoelectric modules. This optimization was performed to achieve maximum thermoelectric power under the constraints of manufacturability. Using these optimum design parameters, we determined that 2.3 kW output power can be recovered from the flat plate oil pan and 2.6 kW from the oil pan with a single step due to the enhanced surface area. These power amounts were found to be higher than those previously obtained from thermoelectric systems integrated to exhaust pipes.

Copyright © 2018 by ASME



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