GMZ’s New Thermoelectric Generators Offer Increased Fuel Efficiency

A new class of thermoelectric generators could bring about greater fuel efficiency. Could they help meet the 2025 CAFE standards? 

New thermoelectric generators could be on their way to making everything from tanks to computers more efficient simply by turning waste heat into valuable electricity.

The escape of heat energy from today’s combustion engines might be the most underutilized energy reserve vehicles possess. From the moment a car’s engine ignites a furnace at the core of its power plant begins generating heat. In today’s engines much of that heat is discarded as exhaust. While that’s been the norm since internal combustion technology began driving the world, a new class of thermoelectric devices built by GMZ Energy might help us increase the efficiency of today’s engines.

Built using half-Heusler compounds, GMZ’s thermoelectric devices contain a potent mix of elements including hafnium, antimony, nickel and tin. Ground down to a nanoscale particulate, the chemical mix is then compressed, heated and formed into discs. By using this process GMZ reports that their elemental concoction increases its thermoelectric conversion rate by some 30 percent. All in all that means that around 7 percent of a system’s waste heat can be converted back into power.

Although a seven percent energy gain might not seem like much, it could be just what a vehicle needs to keep its onboard electrical systems whirring without having to turn to its alternator. This in turn could reduce the amount of fuel needed to run a vehicle’s generator and increase the vehicle’s overall fuel efficiency.

When you consider that over the next decade fuel standards are expected to meet thresholds that only the most productive hybrids can reach, any technological means to increase economy should be met with applause.

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