The role of thermoelectric generator in the efficient operation of vehicles
2018-12-03T17:06:50Z (GMT) by
In the face of the internationally tightened requirements and regulations for CO2 emissions from the transportation sector, waste heat recovery using a thermoelectric generator (TEG) has become the most significant research interest. A vehicular TEG, converting otherwise wasted thermal energy from engines to electricity directly for use in the vehicle systems, is a promising approach for vehicle original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to reduce fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions. This thesis aims to explore the main challenges to be faced in the commercialization of TEGs. Based on a review of the literature, four research gaps have been identified, which are respectively: * Translating the material improvements into TEG Performance, * Transient behaviors of vehicular TEGs under driving cycles, * Fuel saving percentage and cost-benefit estimation of TEG, * Bidirectional characteristic of TEM and bifunctional vehicular TEG. To directly address these research gaps, a quasi-static TEM model, a dynamic TEG model, a semi-empirical vehicular TEG model, and a dual-model TEM model have been respectively developed and validated through experiments on both TEM test rigs and TEG engine test benches. These developed models are used as tools to investigate the performance of TEG, parameters sensitivity, and integration effects. Model-based TEG control, TEG cost benefit ratio and feasibility of a bifunctional TEG are also explored based on the developed models. The simulation results show that TEG power generation is highly sensitive to the heat transfer coefficient of hot side heat exchanger and thermal contact resistance. The TEG installation position is identified as the most important integration effect. It has been found by the simulation result that the fuel saving with TEG installed upstream of the three-way catalyst (TWC) is 50% higher than the fuel saving with TEG installed downstream of the TWC. The fuel saving percentage for a skutterudite vehicular TEG, which can generate around 400-600W in constant speed 120km/h, is 0.5-3.6% depending on the integration position in the exhaust line. A 3-minute faster warm-up effect of engine oil can be obtained when the bifunctional TEG works in engine warm-up mode with electrical current applied.