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Thermoelectrics

[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

MAHLE acquires thermoelectric generator start-up O-Flexx

February 16, 2017

The MAHLE Group is expanding its expertise in the field of thermoelectrics by acquiring the start-up O-Flexx Technologies. O-Flexx specializes in thermoelectric generators; its R&D center and production facilities for both low- and high-temperature modules are based in Duisburg, Germany. The purchase price will not be disclosed.

O-Flexx Technologies offers thermoelectric technology based on a thin-film approach combined with a cost-optimized, high-volume manufacturing process. O-Flexx says that its technology—protected by several patents—significantly increases conversion efficiency.The company collaborates with a partners from the industry—such as MAHLE—as well as research institutions such as the University of Duisburg-Essen, Vienna University of Technology and several Fraunhofer institutes.

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DLR working with Yamaha on thermoelectric generators for vehicles; seeking 3-5% gain in fuel economy

February 02, 2017

The Institute of Vehicle Concepts at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt, DLR) is, together with the Japanese company Yamaha Corporation, developing special vehicle systems based on thermoelectric effects. The aim of the cooperation is to develop prototype thermoelectric generator modules for on-road and rail vehicles. Yamaha is mainly contributing its know-how in the procurement and manufacture of the thermoelectric modules made of semiconductor materials, and DLR is contributing its broad knowledge in design, vehicle concepts, as well as the design and optimization of vehicle energy systems.

Internal combustion engines in vehicles use only about one-third of the potential energy in the fuel for propulsion; the remaining two-thirds are lost as waste heat. Thermoelectric generators use this heat and convert it into electricity. The power can then be used in the vehicle for control units or convenience electronics and thus reduces the load on the alternator, which would otherwise have to generate this power itself.

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Japan researchers successfully synthesize new lightweight thermoelectric material

October 25, 2016

Researchers at the Materials Function Control Laboratory at the Toyohashi University of Technology and the Nagoya Institute of Technology have successfully synthesized a new thermoelectric material, CaMgSi, an intermetallic compound. The key to this development was the synthesis procedure; bulk CaMgSi intermetallic compound was synthesized by combining mechanical ball-milling (MM) and pulse current sintering (PCS) processes.

The new thermoelectric material is lightweight, with a low density of 2.2 g/cm3. One of the possible applications of the material is in automobiles to utilize waste heat emitted from engines, the research team suggested. A paper on the work is published in the Journal of Alloys and Compounds.

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AIMPLAS heating system for EVs reduces energy consumption by 30% relative to conventional systems

October 05, 2016

AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, together with other partners of the EU project JOSPEL, funded by the Horizon 2020 Program under Grant Agreement Nº 653851, has developed an innovative heating system for electric vehicles consisting of thermoplastic heating panels which can be placed in different parts of the car, thus reducing the energy consumption in a 30% compared to conventional heating systems.

The system is based on the Joule effect in which electrical conductive materials produce heat when a voltage is applied. (Also called resistive or ohmic heating.)

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Manchester team proposing graphene-based ballistic rectifier for waste heat recovery

June 03, 2016

Researchers at the University of Manchester (UK) have developed a graphene-based nano-rectifier (“ballistic rectifier”) that can convert waste heat to electricity. The nano-rectifier was built by a team led by Professor Aimin Song and Dr. Ernie Hill, in collaboration with a team at Shandong University (China).

The device exploits graphene’s phenomenally high electron mobility—a property which determines how fast an electron can travel in a material and how fast electronic devices can operate. The resulting device is the most sensitive room-temperature rectifier ever made, the researchers said. Conventional devices with similar conversion efficiencies require cryogenically low temperatures.

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NEC, NEC TOKIN and Tohoku University develop spin-Seebeck thermoelectric device w/ 10x better conversion efficiency

April 25, 2016

NEC Corporation, NEC TOKIN Corporation and TOHOKU UNIVERSITY have jointly created a thermoelectric (TE) device using the spin Seebeck effect (SSE) with conversion efficiency 10 times higher than a test module that was produced based on a multi-layered SSE technology published by the Tohoku University group in 2015.

The spin-Seebeck effect is a thermoelectric effect discovered in 2008 by Prof. Eiji Saitoh and Associate Prof. Ken-ichi Uchida of Tohoku University (Keio University at that time). This is a phenomenon in which a temperature gradient applied in a magnetic material produces a spin current along the temperature gradient. The spin current is a flow of a magnetic property of an electron.

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NREL reveals thermoelectric potential for tailored semiconducting carbon nanotubes

April 05, 2016

A finely tuned carbon nanotube thin film has the potential to act as a thermoelectric power generator that captures and uses waste heat, according to researchers at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The research could help guide the manufacture of thermoelectric devices based on either single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT) films or composites containing these nanotubes. Because more than half of the energy consumed worldwide is rejected primarily as waste heat, the idea of thermoelectric power generation is emerging as an important part of renewable energy and energy-efficiency portfolios.

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