Waste Heat Recovery for Light-Duty Pick-up Truck Application using ThermoAcoustic Converter (TAC) Technology

Paper #:
  • 2017-01-0153

  • 2017-03-28
Almost 1/3rd of the fuel energy is waste through an exhaust of a vehicle. An efficient waste heat recovery process will undoubtedly lead to improved fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gases (GHG) emission. Currently, there are multiple waste heat recovery technologies that are being investigated by various entities in the auto industry. One unique and innovative waste heat recovery approach uses Thermoacoustic Converter (TAC) technology. Thermoacoustics is the field of physics related to the interaction of acoustic waves (sonic power) with heat flows. As in a heat engine, the TAC produces electric power where a temperature differential exists, which can be generated with engine exhaust (hot side) and coolant (cold side). Essentially, the TAC device converts exhaust waste heat into electricity in two steps: 1) the exhaust waste heat is converted to acoustic energy and 2) the acoustic (mechanical) energy is converted to electrical energy. The converted electrical energy can be used for battery charging, running auxiliary electrical accessories, supporting heating system etc. In the event of excess electrical energy, it can be returned to the drivetrain through a motor connected to the FEAD. With the increasing demand for clean energy, TAC could potentially be an attractive choice for reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emission. Such a technology will become more attractive as electric power loads on a vehicle increase through hybridization and the increased usage of infotainment systems, media, and connected vehicles. In this paper, the fundamental principle of TAC technology is described. The TAC waste heat recovery system architecture is presented. Numerical simulations are performed on a light-duty gasoline pick-up truck engine exhaust to assess the performance and potential of TAC technology. The model is applied over various certification cycles such as Federal Test Procedure (FTP), US06 etc. Finally, some of the technical challenges along with the future plan are presented.
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