Identifying Cost Effective Routes To Optimised Energy Recovery For The Fuel Economy Of Vehicles

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Chemistry

Abstract

The internal combustion engine which is in everyday use in a wide variety of applications remains one of the most cost effective means of generating power. A typical engine however loses substantial amounts of energy in its normal operation and there is clear potential to utilise this energy. The largest flow is in the exhaust system of the vehicle, and it is here that the proposed research is focussed.
The main objective of the project is the realisation of an efficient method of energy recovery using a thermoelectric generator and utilising a new type of material known as a skutterudite. By adopting the same internal structure, skutterudites simulate a naturally occurring mineral which has the vital properties of low thermal conductivity with low electrical resistance. The principal advantage of these materials is their potential for cost reduction by utilising low cost metals in their structure. A second and important advantage is the future potential for novel manufacturing techniques in which the active elements of the thermoelectric generator are made using additive methods to build up the kind of complex shapes that are required.
The project brings together three universities that can cover the range of capabilities from the chemistry of materials through to systems integration methods.
The Heriot-Watt team will synthesise new materials using progressively lower cost materials to demonstrate that the required thermoelectric performance can be obtained using low cost materials. The Cardiff team will integrate modules, incorporating protective coatings to ensure the durability of the generator. At Loughborough, the scope to integrate thermo-electric (TE) generators with other functions such as after-treatment will be explored. The Loughborough team will work with the Cardiff team to identify novel methods of integrating the TE modules into a heat exchange device, regarding the requirements imposed by different types of engine.
The project concludes with the practical demonstration of TE generators and a portfolio of simulation results that demonstrate how the cost path and the path to levels of commercial performance will be realised.
 
Description 1. Skutterudites can be fabricated into modules and used to generate electricity from waste heat in an automotive setting.
2. High performance modules can be fabricated.
3. Scale up of materials production through ball milling leads to performance enhancements.
4. Significant reductions in thermal conductivity can be realised in unfilled skutterudites through chemical substitution in the framework.
5. These reductions can be associated with changes in local structure.
6. Light atom and mixed-metal fillers give rise to significant reductions in thermal conductivity.
Exploitation Route We are currently discussing with industrial partners how these findings may be taken forward.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Environment,Transport

 
Description Materials arising from this project have been used to generate electricity from an exhaust stream from a vehicle engine in a demonstration to industrialists. The project led to the formulation of a new proposal to apply advanced manufacturing to the materials discovered in this project. The expertise developed in this project led to contact from two companies for new projects in low-temperature energy recovery and in thermal management, both of which have now been funded.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Transport
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Synthesis and characterisation of thermoelectrics 
Organisation Johnson Matthey
Department Johnson Matthey Technology Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Provided expertise and equipment access to researchers from the collaborator
Collaborator Contribution Provided access to specialist sample preparation equipment
Impact Presentation at International Conference on Thermoelectrics 2015 Journal Output: Enhancing the Thermoelectric Properties of Single and Double Filled p-type Skutterudites Synthesized by an Up-scaled Ball-milling Process J. Prado-Gonjal, P. Vaqueiro, C. Nuttall, R. Potter and A.V. Powell,, J. Alloys Compd., 695, 3598, (2017)
Start Year 2014
 
Description , Workshop on Thermoelectric Materials 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of results from the project at a workshop at the University of Southampton to discuss advances in thermoelectric materials. Presentation led to discussion of outcomes and contributed to a decision to formulate a collaborative CDT project involving multiple university partners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Addressing the energy challenge:the role of chemistry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This lecture was to the Association of Science Education Annual Conference. It outlined how materials chemistry can help address the challenges of ensuring a sustainable energy supply through the development of new energy technologies,from hydrogen storage to thermoelectric power generation. It drew directly on preliminary results from the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.ase.org.uk/conferences/events/2015/01/07/1391/
 
Description Bulk Nanostructured Thermoelectrics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Preliminary results from the project, involving composites, were included in a broader presentation on nanostructured materials at the Fall Meeting of the Materials Research Society
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Effect of framework substitution on the thermal conductivity of skutterudites 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a lecture at the 14th European Conference on Thermoelectrics, Lisbon, Portugal. The talk described results from the project that demonstrate that substantial reductions in thermal conductivity can be produced in unfilled skutterudites through chemical substitution within the framework. Results on recent elastic and inelastic neutron scattering experiments which seek to rationalise this behaviour were presented.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Enhancing thermoelectric properties of skutterudites by mechanical alloying 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a talk presented at the annual conference of the international thermoelectric society, held in Dresden in 2015. The audience consisted primarily of a mixture of academic and industrial researchers in the field, including post-graduate students. The work presented included results from industrial collaboration arising from the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www2.cpfs.mpg.de/ict2015/default.aspx
 
Description India-UK Workshop on Thermoelectric Materials for Waste-Heat Harvesting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A tutorial session was presented to an audience of early career researchers from India and the UK on the application of neutron methods to the investigation of thermoelectric materials. This drew on many of the results arising from the current project. The presentation led to several requests for further information and discussion of collaborative proposals for experiments at the ISIS facility.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Neutron diffraction and thermoelectric properties of (Co,Fe,Ni)Sb3 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The Red Kite VII Meeting was organized by the ISIS facility of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory on 17 Jun 2015. PhD students and postdocs whose research is related to the ISIS facility attended this meeting. This poster described the results of structural investigations carried out at the ISIS Facility.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Probing structureproperty relationships in thermoelectric materials by neutron diffraction 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a talk presented at the annual conference of the international thermoelectric society, held in Dresden in 2015. The audience consisted primarily of a mixture of academic and industrial researchers in the field, including post-graduate students. The work presented included results of experiments carried out on materials arising from the project that were performed at central facilities (ISIS).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www2.cpfs.mpg.de/ict2015/scientific-program/default.html
 
Description Reducing Thermal Conductivity of Skutterudites 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A lecture presented at the second Southern Dalton Meeting, held at the University of Reading. Results showing the reduction in thermal conductivity achievable in unfilled skutterudites by chemical substitution were presented to an audience of inorganic chemists from the South East of England.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Structural Investigations of Thermoelectric Materials for Energy Harvesting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This was invited talk to the UK ISIS Crystallography User Group describing the application neutron scattering techniques to thermoelectric materials to materials arising from the current project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description The effect of framework substitution on the thermoelectric properties of unfilled and filled skutterudites 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a poster presentation at the Royal Society of Chemistry Solid State Group Christmas meeting. It described detailed structural investigations by pair distribution function analysis, carried out at the ISIS facility on materials arising from the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Thermoelectric Materials for Energy Harvesting from Waste Heat 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was an invited lecture at the Collaborative Conference on 3D Materials Research, Seoul, Korea. The talk included results on thermoelectric materials arising from the current project. The international audience consisted principally of researchers in the broad field of materials science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Thermoelectric properties of (Co,Fe,Ni)Sb3 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a poster presentation at the Royal Society of Chemistry Solid State Group Christmas meeting 2014. It presented thermoelectric properties of materials arising from the project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Workshop on Advanced Materials and Principles to Develop Viable Thermoelectrics & Effective Thermal Management 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of results arising from the project as part of a workshop to discuss novel approaches to thermoelectric materials, design, synthesis and characterization. Presentation at this meeting generated discussion and invitations to present further talks at future meetings.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017