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Technical Paper

Towards Optimization of Automotive Waste Heat Recovery Using Thermoelectrics

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.