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Waste Heat Recovery Could Add 5% Fuel Efficiency to Cars, Ships

WalleniusShipWaste heat recovery systems could deliver a five percent improvement in fuel efficiency in cars and ships. As an example, researchers are developing a thermoelectric generator (TEG) to capture waste heat in vehicles that could improve fuel efficiency by five percent.

A Swiss research team from Berner Fachhochschule and EMPA are designing the generator to be integrated into the muffler instead of installed as a separate TEG unit on the exhaust line, reports Green Car Congress.

A prototype based on the muffler of a VW Touran reveals with additional design improvements and higher conversion efficiencies (PDF), the recovered energy will be high enough to meet the electrical requirements of a car, improving fuel efficiency by up to five percent.

Research is also underway at Cummins to develop a waste recovery system, aimed at boosting fuel efficiency in U.S. manufactured vehicles and trucks.

In the meantime, Wallenius Marine expects to turn its ship’s waste heat into onboard electricity with the installation of a waste recovery system on one of its new or existing ships by Fall 2011, reports Green Car Congress. The shipping company targets an initial four to six percent fuel savings.

It’s the first installation of Opcon’s Opcon Powerbox — an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) waste recovery system — on a ship.

With Wallenius’s ships consuming about 200,000 to 250,000 tons of bunker fuel annually, a fuel savings of four to six percent translates into a reduction of carbon emissions by about 37,000 tons a year and sulphur dioxide by about 150 tons per year.

Wärtsilä Switzerland offers a ten-page technical paper (PDF) that details a waste recovery system installed on a merchant ship that could recover 11 percent of the wasted energy from the ship’s engine, reports Next Big Future.

Danish shipping company Maersk has found another way to cut fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 30 percent by cutting the top cruising speed of its ships in half over the past two years.

And SkySails has been testing large towing kites on ocean-going vessels as a way to reduce fuel consumption. In one test, the towing kite helped reduce emissions up to 35 percent annually and save $1,000 in fuel a day.

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