The US Department of Energy (DOE) has authorized Amerigon’s BSST subsidiary to proceed with the second phase of a $6.3 million project (earlier post) to create an efficient and practical thermoelectric system that will improve fuel economy by converting waste heat in automobile engine exhaust into electrical power.
BSST is leading the project team that includes BMW of North America; University of California, Santa Cruz; Purdue University; the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory; and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, among others.
The ultimate goal of the program is to use thermoelectric technology developed by BSST to create an energy recovery system that will reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, using technology that can be engineered into standard vehicles.
The DOE authorization, which includes funding for the second phase, came after the team successfully completed and presented its system design concept and supporting analysis, as well as a development plan that would lead to the project’s completion.
Phase 2, which has an estimated timeline of one year, will focus on developing the major subcomponents of the system and supporting processes, including materials, electronics and manufacturing. The ultimate objective of Phase 2 is to establish the technical and cost viability of the waste heat recovery and power generation system.
In phase 1 of the program, we analyzed the technical feasibility of the system. Phase 2 is focused on developing the system subcomponents and components to demonstrate engineering feasibility, and to prepare to build a full system prototype in Phase 3. We think, ultimately, the marketplace will be very receptive to a system that improves fuel economy by capturing and harnessing energy that today is literally being thrown away.—Amerigon Chairman Oscar (Bud) Marx
The DOE project is part of the federal FreedomCAR (Cooperative Automotive Research) and Fuel Partnership. Seventy-five percent of the total cost of this program will be paid for with Federal funds, while selected project team members will bear the remaining cost.