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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K026658/1
Title: Identifying Cost Effective Routes To Optimised Energy Recovery For The Fuel Economy Of Vehicles
Principal Investigator: Chen, Professor R
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Caterpillar Inc (Global) Dana Canada Corporation European Thermodynamics Ltd
Johnson Matthey Ricardo Group
Department: Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering
Organisation: Loughborough University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 31 October 2013 Ends: 28 April 2017 Value (£): 372,621
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Control Engineering Design & Testing Technology
Materials Processing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
EP/K029142/1 EP/K019767/1
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
11 Mar 2013 Engineering Prioritisation Meeting 11/12 March 2013 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form

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.
Key Findings
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Date Materialised
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.lboro.ac.uk