A UK project aimed at recovering energy from waste exhaust heat could improve fuel consumption of internal combustion engines by 5%.
The initiative, which has £2 million of government funding, is called VIPER2 (Vehicle Integrated Powertrain Energy Recovery) and is led by Jaguar Land Rover. Other participants include Ford, European Thermodynamics and Nottingham University.
The target of the project is to recover a peak of 300 watts of electrical energy from a petrol engine being put through the World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) cycle. The recovered energy can then be used to drive the ancillaries or a hybrid motor. A key element of the project is a thermoelectric generator (TEG) mounted in the exhaust system downstream of the catalytic converter. Petrol engines convert only around 35% of the fuel they burn into mechanical energy. Most of the rest of the energy contained in the fuel is consumed by heat and frictional losses, while some of the energy contained in expanding hot exhaust gases is used to drive turbochargers or heat catalytic converters and particulate filters. The rest exits via the exhaust pipe or is absorbed by the car’s cooling system and radiated to the atmosphere.