A thermo-electric heat-collector originally designed to power space satellites is one of the futuristic technologies that BMW will add to its cars to save fuel and cut carbon emissions, BMW's head of development, Klaus Draeger, has said.
The ‘thermo-electric generator’ is being tested now, attached to the exhaust, where it captures waste heat transferred down the exhaust.
“We will be ready for production in about five years,” said Draeger.
The centrepiece of a thermo-electric generator is a group of thermocouples that generate electricity when heated. This means that the waste heat from the car engine can be used to generate electricity.
Fuel savings of five per cent are already being predicted by BMW.
Up to 30 per cent of the energy wasted by an internal combustion engine flows down the exhaust. Recouping even part of this energy would make a dramatic saving in overall vehicle efficiency.