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Cooley On Cars
Car Tech 101: Recovering your car's lost heatBrian Cooley explains how carmakers are experimenting with ways to convert your car's heat waste into energy.
[MUSIC] Of that roughly 70% of your car's fuel that is wasted, about 85% of that goes out as heat. Exhaust systems, grills, ducts, radiators, coolant plumbing, and fans. They're all over your car just to get rid of heat. But heat is just energy. Why waste it? Why not convert it? [MUSIC] That's what car makers are seeking to do via two main strategies. The first is around the thermoelectric. Electric effect, that occurs when connected materials react differently to heat, creating an electronic differential between them that generates current. Space crafts have long used this to generate electricity from the sun's rays. An example is BMW's work on thermal electric generators that capture the heat in the car's exhaust system to make electricity in a solid state manner. a 7 series, for example needs up to a thousand watts of electrical power while running. Any of that demand you can offload from the alternator saves gas. Researchers at Boise State University along with Robert Bosch, Honda and the Oak Ridge National Labs. Are working under $8 million federal grant to create better thermal electric generators by using nano material. They hope to improve vehicle energy efficiency by a solid 5%. Now another main thrust is turbine. Ford is keen on using exhaust heat to warm up fluid that creates vapor pressure to spin a turbine generator. Make electricity. Sort of like a mini nuclear power plant, without the nuclear part. BMW's turbo steamer project is similar and they say it will be on the market in around six years. They're seeing up to a 15% improvement in test vehicles, but are hoping to get a solid 10% in the real world on longer steady drives. [MUSIC] Now the real keys to all these technologies are three fold. First, prove their efficiency gains in real world driving. Next, get the size of the mechanisms down so they fit in small cars where efficiency is often more prized than larger ones. And of course manage the costs, so that fuel savings are not overshadowed by the price of the tech. [music played] More car tech demystified right now at cnetoncars.com.Click on car tech 101. [more music]