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PurpleHaze 02-09-2008 08:17 PM

Silly Idea
Most of a car's fuel energy is lost as waste heat through the radiator and whatnot. I just had the idle idea of using the 180+ degree water from the cooling system to run some kind of steam turbine, maybe the way they do with geothermal power.

In geothermal power the earth's heat usually boils another fluid, one that boils off at a really low temperature, like freon does. Or you could just run the engine at 225 to boil water to turn your turbine and spin a generator.

I'm imagining a sort of hybrid with maybe a tiny little alternator that almost never runs, and a BIG battery, but not that big. It seems like this would work best on long haul tractor trailers to remove the drag of powering all those lights and gadgets they have. Maybe if enough power can be snatched back from the cooling system you could have a Prius kinda thing without the Prius drivetrain, or at least eliminate alternator load on a normal car without eliminating the alternator altogether.

If my dumbass can come up with this idea, then I doubt that nobody else has, and so I'm wondering if anybody has heard about anything like this?

GasSavers_Red 02-09-2008 08:44 PM

BMW has been trying it

Still its a valid idea, using your exhaust to heat the fluid would be better than using your coolant IMO, since your exhaust runs much hotter.

GasSavers_SD26 02-10-2008 02:18 AM


Originally Posted by Red (Post 90774)
Still its a valid idea, using your exhaust to heat the fluid would be better than using your coolant IMO, since your exhaust runs much hotter.

Heat transfer would be more efficient from liquid vs air though. If you put you hand in 160F water, your skin would come off. Put your hand in 160F air, it will be really hot, but you won't have the same affects as the water.

Snax 02-10-2008 06:40 AM

Seems a very valid concept from that article:

"Combining the innovative assistance drive with a 1.8 litre BMW four-cylinder engine on the test rig reduced consumption by up to 15 percent and generated 10 kilowatts more power and 20 Nm more torque. This increased power and efficiency comes for, well, … nothing. The energy is extracted exclusively from the heat in the exhaust gases and cooling water so it is essentially a quantum leap in efficiency."

The only reasons not to do it are added complexity and cost.

s2man 02-10-2008 01:28 PM

Besides the complexity and cost, you'd have to refill the water reservoir regularly. Then calcium would build up in the boiler...

I looked at building an absorption cooling system, using the waste heat in the exhaust, to replace the air conditioning in my car. A home-built system is possible, but it would fill my back seat :eek: .

My favorite use for the waste heat is thermal electric. A quick google shows 15V 26A modules for $36. Boy, a couple of those could replace my alternator. Bulk buy anyone?

PurpleHaze 02-10-2008 02:08 PM

s2man what are these 15V 26A modules you're talking about?

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