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20 February 2008
Cardiff University researchers are exploring how waste heat from car exhausts could provide a new greener power supply for vehicles.
Professor Mike Rowe’s long term research interest at the Cardiff School of Engineering has been in thermoelectric generation - employing thermocouples to convert heat into electricity. The conversion technology is used in everyday applications such as controlling the central heating system or refrigerator temperature. Now Professor Rowe aims to use this technology to generate electricity from the waste heat in vehicles.
Professor Mike Rowe, OBE School of Engineering said: "The main interest in cars is to decrease the petrol consumption and reduce CO2 emissions. If you can utilise the exhaust heat you could replace the alternator. This would provide a 5 per cent saving in fuel straightaway."
Vehicle manufacturers in the United States are already investing in exploring this technology, however Professor Rowe has found the UK’s interest in the technology to be slower.
He said: "Thermoelectric generation is a green solution. It can in many instances cost less than solar energy. It has huge future potential yet it has been neglected to date in the UK."
ENGIN 1 Green technology
1. Cardiff School of Engineering
Engineering has been taught at Cardiff since 1893. Today, the School of Engineering is regarded as one of the top centres for engineering with teaching and research facilities ranked amongst the best in the British university system following a £35million refurbishment in recent years.
Staff members are active in most fields of engineering research. These are split into three main groups: civil engineering; electrical, electronic and systems engineering; and mechanical engineering. Its research has earned the highest ratings in government assessments.
Research expertise within mechanical engineering includes: control and dynamics; emissions, effluents and processes; energy; renewable energy; fluid power; materials; thermal fluids; and tribology.
In addition, the School hosts a number of officially designated specialist research centres.
2. Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. It is also ranked as one of the world’s top 100 universities by the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES).
2008 marks the 125th anniversary of Cardiff University having been founded by Royal Charter in 1883. Today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.
Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research universities. Visit the University website at: www.cardiff.ac.uk
Professor Mike Rowe
School of Engineering
Tel: (0)29 2087 5947
Tel: 029 20874499
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