Towards Optimization of Automotive Waste Heat Recovery Using Thermoelectrics 2001-01-1021
The potential for thermoelectric power generation via waste heat recovery onboard automobiles to displace alternators and/or provide additional charging to a hybrid vehicle battery pack has increased with recent advances in thermoelectric materials processing. A preliminary design/modeling study was performed to optimize waste heat recovery for power generation using a modified radiator incorporating thermoelectric modules. The optimization incorporates not only thermoelectric performance but also critical systems issues such as accessory power consumption, vehicle drag, and added system weight. Results indicate the effectiveness of the thermoelectric module is extremely sensitive to ambient heat rejection and to the operating temperature range of the thermoelectric device. The study also details how radiator modifications can be made with minimal overall system performance penalties and what is the minimal thermoelectric performance necessary for the proposed integrated TE radiator to provide adequate power for displacing current day alternators. From the results, conclusions are drawn about the viability of the concept for integration into a passenger vehicle.