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Tenneco Debuts Solution For Waste Heat Recovery

Tenneco (NYSE:TEN) announced today that it is part of a consortium actively developing a solution for capturing waste exhaust heat in vehicles and converting it to electrical energy to be used to power electrical systems within the vehicle, supporting automakers strategies for improved fuel economy. The first rapid prototype of a Thermoelectric Generator (TEG) for light vehicle applications will be on display at Tenneco’s booth at the 2013 Frankfurt IAA Motor Show (Hall 5.1, Stand A16).

In a typical internal combustion engine, approximately 30 percent of the fuel energy is used for actual vehicle propulsion, while more than 70 percent is lost, about half of it through the vehicle’s exhaust system. Thermoelectric generators help capture a portion of the lost energy, convert it to electricity and redistribute it to electrical systems in the vehicle, which can ultimately support improved fuel efficiency.

Tenneco has added its experience in heat recovery technology and thermal management to an industry consortium tasked with optimizing the design, validation and testing of thermoelectric generators for light vehicles. Partnering with Tenneco is Gentherm, a global developer of thermal management technologies for the automotive industry, and two global vehicle manufacturers.

“While vehicle manufacturers have made significant progress in achieving emissions reduction and fuel economy, new technologies must be developed throughout the vehicle to address engines running at higher temperatures and with greater loads. With waste heat recovery, heat that would not otherwise be recycled can be put to use within the vehicle,” said Dr. Wolfgang Reuter, vice president, sales and engineering, Tenneco Clean Air Europe.

The TEG is a unique heat exchanger that integrates cylindrical-shaped cartridges. Thermoelectric material is sandwiched together within the cartridges that are exposed to hot exhaust gas on one side and to engine coolant on the other side. The temperature gradient over the thermoelectric material results in a continuous electrical current flow, which is then redistributed to the vehicle. The modular design of the TEG enables packaging scalability depending on vehicle design, making it more cost-effective to integrate into the vehicle’s exhaust system.

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