Researches on integrating thermoelectric power generator into various vehicle platform have witness a surge in solid demand of improving thermal efficiency and CO2 emission reduction from automotive industries. Many prototypes were built and tested in different segments of the car. Position at exhaust gas recirculation valve and downstream of catalyst are preferred by car manufacturers as easiness of installation. Up to 4% improvement of fuel economy has been claimed under an ideal road driving cycle. Much focuses on the lightweighting of the thermoelectric power generator whilst producing stable electric power output under an intermittent working load. However, major barriers to real application still exist due to low conversion efficiency of thermoelectric material and poor heat exchanger system design. Although heat source can be high up to 800 K, actual temperature at thermoelectric legs are much less than that. Thermal losses are inevitable through the heat exchanger route and effectiveness of heat transfer become the key to system development in future. Thermoelectric material working in higher temperature could be a breakthrough and game changer for waste heat recovery in automotive industries.
Part of the book: Bringing Thermoelectricity into Reality