Engineering 101

This new material could turn engine heat into electricity, save on gas mileage

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In an attempt to improve vehicles’ fuel efficiency, automakers are constantly on the hunt for newer and better methods and materials.

A recent scientific development may just be the answer to boosting gas mileage. A recent report published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, discusses the creation of a material that could convert engine heat that would typically be wasted into electrical energy to help keep a car running, as well as reduce the need for fuels.

Image Credit: mashurov/iStock/Thinkstock via American Chemical Society
Image Credit: mashurov/iStock/Thinkstock via American Chemical Society

By 2025 U.S. vehicles will be required to average 54.5 miles per gallon. This boost in gas mileage can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as dependence on fossil fuels. In order to reach these goals, scientists have been working on engine heat conversion methods but find that the materials needed can be heavy, expensive, toxic, or only capable of operating at extremely high temperatures.

Ian A. Kinloch, Robert Freer, and their team of scientists, who authored the recent report, discovered an alternative.

To create this material, the team started with strontium titanium dioxide and then added a small amount of graphene (which has great conductive properties). The result was a new material capable of capturing and converting heat into electric current over a broad temperature range, according to a news release by the American Chemical Society.

This discovery could also offer future applications in aerospace, manufacturing and other sectors.

For more information take a look at the report published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces: Thermoelectric Power Generation from Lanthanum Strontium Titanium Oxide at Room Temperature Through the Addition of Graphene

Story via American Chemical Society.

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