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Simulation of Fuel Economy Effectiveness of
Exhaust Heat Recovery System Using
Thermoelectric Generator in a Series Hybrid
2011-01-1335
Published
04/12/2011
Masayoshi Mori, Takeshi Yamagami , Mitsumasa Sorazawa , Takatoshi Miyabe , Shunji
Takahashi and Tomohide Haraguchi
Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
Copyright © 2011 SAE International
doi:10.4271/2011-01-1335
ABSTRACT
Simulation was employed to estimate the fuel economy
enhancement from the application of an exhaust heat
recovery system using a thermoelectric generator (TEG) in a
series hybrid. The properties of the thermoelectric elements
were obtained by self-assessment and set as the conditions for
estimating the fuel economy. It was concluded that applying
exhaust system insulation and forming the appropriate
combination of elements with differing temperature
properties inside the TEG could yield an enhancement of
about 3% in fuel economy. An actual vehicle was also used to
verify the calculation elements in the fuel economy
simulation, and their reliability was confirmed.
INTRODUCTION
Methods for optimizing TEG specifications have begun to be
proposed in recent years with a view to TEG application in
automobiles [1,2]. One such method that has been proposed
is simulation capable of optimizing the TEG specifications so
that it will yield maximum power or maximum efficiency [2].
When installing exhaust heat recovery systems employing
TEG in automobiles, not only are factors that enhance fuel
economy engendered by power generation, but at the same
time, factors that result in deterioration in fuel economy, such
as increased pressure loss in the exhaust system and increased
vehicle weight, are also created. Obtaining the optimum fuel
economy enhancement requires configuring the system
specifications so that these factors are in optimal balance. It is
not necessarily the case that optimization of TEG output or
efficiency will yield the optimal fuel economy benefit.
1268 SAE Int. J. Mater. Manuf. | Volume 4 | Issue 1
For that purpose, it was decided that the object to consider for
optimization should be expanded from the TEG alone to the
vehicle system. Not only was a simulation created to
calculate fuel economy effectiveness with positive and
negative factors regarding fuel economy taken into account,
but a scheme was also created to optimize the system as
installed on a vehicle [1]. A method of use was also proposed
to further enhance the fuel economy by installing the system
on series hybrid vehicles that have higher exhaust gas
temperatures and more stable exhaust gas flow rate than
ordinary gasoline vehicles [3]. Meanwhile, measures to
insulate the exhaust ports, exhaust manifold, and other such
parts so as to reduce dissipation heat loss and increase the
amount of heat input to the waste heat recovery unit were
also proposed as methods of increasing heat recovery
efficiency [4].
For this report, specific series hybrid specifications and
engine operating conditions were assumed and fuel economy
simulation was employed to estimate the fuel economy
enhancement from application of the TEG to the assumed
series hybrid. The reduction in fuel consumption that can be
obtained by applying insulation to the exhaust system was
also examined. The estimation was made by subjecting the
properties of multiple sample thermoelectric elements with
differing temperature characteristics to self-assessment, and
choosing from among them those elements with higher
conversion efficiency in each temperature range. Those
properties were then taken as the set conditions for the
calculation. In order to determine more effective methods for
utilizing the thermoelectric elements, estimates were
produced for the various cases that arise when the elements
selected for each temperature range are used independently
and when they are used in combination with elements that
have differing temperature ranges. An actual vehicle was also
used to conduct accuracy verification of the relationship
between pressure loss and the power generation output of the
TEG, as well as weight, as computed from the calculation
elements in the fuel economy simulation, and the reliability
of the calculation elements was evaluated.
various elements assessed, those found to have the optimal
properties in each category were adopted.
Table 1. Assumed specification of series hybrid
SET CONDITIONS FOR FUEL
ECONOMY SIMULATION
In estimating the TEG fuel economy enhancement with a
series hybrid as the set conditions, the specifications in Table
1 were assumed. The exhaust temperature at the TEG inlet
was set to two types of configuration, one with no particular
means of insulation applied and the other with double-layered
piping used to insulate the exhaust system. Regarding the
effectiveness of insulating the exhaust system, the results of
verification tests of insulation effectiveness in exhaust
systems conducted in the past were referred to, and it was
assumed that an increase in exhaust gas temperature of 120°C
could be expected relative to the TEG inlet temperature when
no insulation is applied. Regarding the engine operating
conditions, two sets of conditions were configured, one a
low-power operation with low brake specific fuel
consumption (BSFC), and the other a high-power operation
with somewhat higher BSFC. The high-power operation is
used when a high-load manner of driving is required in which
the necessary energy cannot be supplied by the low-power
operation. The assumption of the fuel economy simulation
carried out here was that priority would be assigned to use of
the low-power operation, in response to the driving load,
while switching over to the high-power operation as
necessary in order to obtain the electric power necessary for
operating the vehicle. Figure 1 shows the operating points of
low-power operation (Low) and of high-power operation
(High) in the BSFC map. The operating point for the highpower operation was selected to yield approximately two
times the power of the low-power operation while holding the
increase in BSFC down to a minimum. Table 2 shows the
operating times of high-power and low-power operation and
engine stop time when operating with the assumed engine on
US fuel economy driving cycles.
Figures 2 and 3 show the respective performance of P-type
and N-type elements, set as the conditions for calculating the
TEG fuel economy benefit. The thermoelectric elements can
be classified under the three general categories of lowtemperature type elements that have high performance at
200°C or below, middle-temperature type elements that
demonstrate high performance at around 350°C, and hightemperature type elements that have high performance at
around 450°C. Multiple element samples were obtained for
the various element categories and self-assessment of the
performance of those elements was performed. Among the
SAE Int. J. Mater. Manuf. | Volume 4 | Issue 1
Figure 1. BSFC map of engine adopted for simulation
Table 2. Assumed engine operation schedule
1269
Figure 2. Figure of merit of P type thermoelectric
element
takes as inputs the generated power, increase in exhaust
pressure loss, and weight increase that are obtained from the
three upstream calculations, and then uses the fuel economy
sensitivity of those factors obtained using the actual vehicle
to convert them into fuel economy [1]. The calculation
accuracy in the heat exchanger performance calculation,
power generating performance calculation, and system
weight calculation described above was verified on an actual
vehicle. Since the series hybrid assumed as the object for the
present fuel economy simulation does not actually exist, the
verification was performed using an existing vehicle as a
substitute. A simulation conducted in advance was used to
predict the state with TEG installed, and then the accuracy of
those results was verified by comparing them with the
measurement results obtained from the actual vehicle with
TEG installed.
Table 3 shows the test conditions used in verifying the
accuracy of the calculation elements of the fuel economy
simulation. The test employed a current production model
CIVIC that was placed on a chassis dynamo where loads
equivalent to actual driving were applied and measurements
of the steady states at multiple vehicle speeds were taken.
Table 4 shows the actual measurement results for flow and
temperature of the exhaust gas and coolant supplied to the
TEG as taken at the measurement points. Figure 5 shows the
structure of the TEG used in verifying accuracy, and Fig. 6
shows the TEG as installed. The testing was conducted with
the TEG placed in the center tunnel under the floor and
downstream from the catalyst.
Table 3. Test condition
Figure 3. Figure of merit of N type thermoelectric
element
SET CONDITIONS FOR ACCURACY
VERIFICATION OF FUEL ECONOMY
SIMULATION CALCULATION
ELEMENTS
Figure 4 shows the composition of the fuel economy
simulation process. The fuel economy simulation is
composed of three basic calculation elements, which are heat
exchanger performance, power generating performance, and
system weight. The heat exchanger performance calculation,
which is highest upstream, carries out computation for certain
exhaust gas conditions to determine what heat exchanger
involves what extent of pressure loss, in order to calculate
what extent of heat flux density will be possible. The power
generating performance calculation is carried out to
determine what extent of power generation is possible using
that heat. The system weight calculation estimates how much
the resulting TEG will weigh. The fuel economy simulation
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Table 4. Measured inlet condition of TEG
FUEL ECONOMY SIMULATION
RESULTS
Figure 7 shows the generated power obtained by the TEG
using low-temperature type, middle-temperature type, and
high-temperature type elements, with each type used alone as
Figure 4. Compositions of fuel economy calculation
well as in combinations of low- and high-temperature type
elements. It also shows the calculated average fuel economy
enhancement
under
LA4
City/Highway
(Urban
Dynamometer Driving Schedule and Highway Fuel Economy
Dynamometer Driving Schedule) and US06 (Supplemental
Federal Test Procedure), in every case both with and without
exhaust system insulation.
EFFECT OF ELEMENT TYPE ON
GENERATED POWER AND FUEL
ECONOMY ENHANCEMENT
First, the effect of the element type on generated power and
fuel economy enhancement was examined. When using the
elements alone, the use of elements that perform at higher
temperatures can be expected to yield a greater increase in
power and a greater fuel economy enhancement. The
efficiency of thermoelectric elements in converting heat to
electricity can be calculated using equation (1).
(1)
Attention to the figure of merit ZT will show that when the
performance of the P-type and N-type elements shown in
Figs. 2 and 3 is averaged, the figures are greater for lowSAE Int. J. Mater. Manuf. | Volume 4 | Issue 1
temperature and middle-temperature types than for hightemperature types. However, the material properties of the
low-temperature and middle-temperature types are such that,
compared to the high-temperature type, they are unable to
maintain a high temperature on the heated side of the element
(Th), so that the Carnot efficiency shown in the first term of
equation (1) is lower. This depresses the efficiency of
conversion into electricity (ηMat) so that the high-temperature
type element obtains higher generated power and greater fuel
economy enhancement.
EFFECT OF EXHAUST SYSTEM
INSULATION ON GENERATED
POWER AND FUEL ECONOMY
ENHANCEMENT
Next, the effect on generated power and fuel economy
enhancement due to the presence or absence of insulation will
be examined. There are constraints on the thermoelectric
elements due to their physical properties, and the heat
exchanger specifications and element shapes are therefore
adjusted so that the temperature on the heated side of the
elements will not change because of the presence or absence
of insulation. Consequently, the efficiency of conversion into
electricity by the thermoelectric elements remains almost
entirely unchanged in the various types of element. As shown
in Fig. 7, however, the application of insulation results in an
increase in generated power and fuel economy enhancement
relative to when insulation is not applied. That enhancement
occurs at a more conspicuous rate in the high-temperature
type elements compared to the low-temperature type
elements. The increase in generated power and fuel economy
enhancement takes place because the insulation has increased
the heat input (Q) to the TEG in equation (2), which
1271
Figure 5. Structure of TEG
expresses generated power, and the enhancement is
conspicuous in the high-temperature type elements because
the rate of increase in the heat input from before insulation to
after insulation is greater in the high-temperature type
elements than it is in the low-temperature type elements.
(2)
As shown in Table 5, the heat exchanger with hightemperature type elements in the optimally designed TEG has
a smaller fin pitch than the heat exchanger with lowtemperature type elements and so it has greater heat transfer
performance. The reason for this is that the high-temperature
1272 SAE Int. J. Mater. Manuf. | Volume 4 | Issue 1
type elements generate more power than the low-temperature
type elements and this power can compensate for the
deterioration in efficiency of the internal combustion engine
resulting from TEG pressure loss. This kind of heat
exchanger performance differential results in an increase in
the capacity of the TEG to absorb the greater heat of the
exhaust gas, in which the temperature is raised higher
because of the insulation. That increase in the heat input in
the high-temperature type elements, which have higher heat
transfer performance, is about 100 W greater than in the lowtemperature type elements. The high-temperature type
elements also need to maintain the element temperature at a
higher level compared to the low-temperature type elements
because, as shown in Fig. 2 and Fig. 3, their power generating
efficiency is lower in the low element temperature range.
Consequently, the TEG exhaust gas outlet temperature is
higher with the high-temperature type elements than with the
Figure 6. Installation image of TEG
Figure 7. Results of generated power and fuel economy enhancement
low-temperature type elements, and the heat input to the
high-temperature type element TEG is smaller than to the
low-temperature type element TEG. The rate of increase in
the heat input to the various elements after application of
insulation will be relatively greater in the high-temperature
type elements, which have smaller heat input to the TEG
before insulation is applied and which have a greater increase
in the heat input after insulation is applied, than in the lowtemperature type elements, which have the opposite
tendency.
SAE Int. J. Mater. Manuf. | Volume 4 | Issue 1
1273
Table5. Optimized heat exchanger specification and
thermal conditions of TEG (Low-power operation)
RESULTS FROM VERIFICATION OF
ACCURACY OF CALCULATION
ELEMENTS FOR FUEL ECONOMY
SIMULATION
Figure 8 shows the results from verification of the heat
exchanger performance calculations. The relationships of the
heat flux density of heat recovered by the heat exchanger to
the pressure losses that occur before and after the heat
exchanger were compared for the actual measurements and
the simulation. The predictions made in the simulation
largely agreed with the results of actual measurement.
EFFECT OF COMBINATIONS OF
ELEMENTS WITH DIFFERING
TEMPERATURE PROPERTIES ON
GENERATED POWER AND FUEL
ECONOMY ENHANCEMENT
As described above, the high-temperature type elements can
be expected to have greater recovery performance due to their
higher Carnot efficiency. There are issues, however, in that
the TEG exhaust gas outlet temperature is higher, more heat
is disposed of without being recovered by the TEG, and the
amount of heat input to the TEG is smaller. An effective
approach to overcoming these issues is to place lowtemperature type elements, which perform even at low gas
temperatures, downstream from the high-temperature
elements inside the TEG, increasing the heat input to the
TEG. This combined use of high-temperature and lowtemperature type elements can increase recovery efficiency
by around 30% compared to when the high-temperature type
elements are used alone, as shown in Fig. 7. In terms of
performance, the application of thermoelectric elements
subjected to self-assessment, the application of insulation in
the exhaust system, and the appropriate combination of hightemperature and low-temperature type elements in the TEG
can be expected to yield a fuel economy enhancement of
around 3%. Apart from the method of combining the
appropriate elements upstream and downstream in the TEG,
it has also been proposed that a segmentation and cascading
method be used in which the heated side of the element has
high-temperature type elements arranged in an overlapping
manner, and the cooled side of the element has lowtemperature type elements [5]. As distinct from the method of
combining the proper elements upstream and downstream in
the TEG, the application of this segmentation and cascading
method to upstream elements can be expected to yield still
greater increases in generated power and greater fuel
economy enhancement.
1274 SAE Int. J. Mater. Manuf. | Volume 4 | Issue 1
Figures 9 and 10 show the results of verification of the
thermoelectric element temperature in power generating
performance calculation. Figure 9 shows the average
temperature for the heated side of the elements shown in Fig.
11 for the entire 32 modules. Figure 10 likewise shows the
average values for the temperature difference between the
heated side and the cooled side. Both show a positive
agreement between measurement and simulation. Figure 12
shows the electromotive force generated between the anode
and cathode shown in Fig. 11, integrated for the entire
modules. Figure 13 shows the results for the electromotive
force converted into the module's generated power. The
conversion to power output was derived from the results of
precise measurements of the generated power relative to the
temperature difference that occurred in the module prepared
separately using specialized instruments. In both the
electromotive force and the generated power, the simulation
shows a positive reproduction of the actual device. Figures 9
and 10 also indicate a match between the simulation and
actual measurements of the temperature at every location,
derived from the power generating performance calculation
process.
Finally, Table 6 shows the results for verification of the
system weight calculations. The TEG prototype made for this
research, as shown in Fig. 6, was designed to allow various
different measurements to be made. Its volume is therefore
about two times that of a TEG not made for instrumentation.
When this difference in volume is taken into account, the
weight difference seen here between the estimate and
measurement is generally appropriate. The weight derived
from calculations is close to the weight of a TEG that is
envisioned for practical use and not for the purpose of
measurement.
The validity of the three calculation elements of heat
exchanger performance calculation, power generating
performance calculation, and system weight calculation in the
fuel economy simulation has been verified. Therefore, the
approximately 3% fuel economy enhancement achieved by
the TEG as calculated in the fuel economy simulation is
credible.
Figure 8. Comparison of heat exchanger performance
Figure 11. Structure and measured properties of
thermoelectric module
Figure 9. Comparison of thermoelectric element
temperature at heated side
Figure 12. Comparison of electromotive force
Figure 10. Comparison of temperature difference created
to thermoelectric element
Figure 13. Comparison of converted generated power
SAE Int. J. Mater. Manuf. | Volume 4 | Issue 1
1275
Table6. Comparison of TEG weight and volume
CONTACT INFORMATION
Masayoshi Mori
Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
Automobile R&D Center
[email protected]
SUMMARY/CONCLUSIONS
The reduction in fuel consumption that would occur with a
TEG installed in a series hybrid and using thermoelectric
elements with the performance shown in self-assessment was
estimated, leading to the conclusion that about 3% fuel
economy enhancement could be expected. By using hightemperature type elements on the upstream side of the TEG,
where exhaust gas temperatures are high and low-temperature
type elements on the downstream side, where the
temperatures are lower, the recovery efficiency was increased
by about 30% compared to when high-temperature elements
are used alone. The appropriate combination of elements
upstream and downstream in the TEG was effective in fuel
economy enhancement. The application of insulation in the
exhaust system yielded a fuel economy enhancement,
particularly in the high-temperature type elements where heat
input can be effectively increased. A verification of the
accuracy of the calculation elements in the fuel economy
simulation was also conducted and the credibility of those
elements was confirmed.
REFERENCES
1. Mori, M., Yamagami, T., Oda, N., Hattori, M. et al.,
“Current Possibilities of Thermoelectric Technology Relative
to Fuel Economy,” SAE Technical Paper 2009-01-0170,
2009, doi:10.4271/2009-01-0170.
2. Crane, D. T., “An introduction to system level steady-state
and transient modeling and optimization of high power
density thermoelectric generator devices made of segmented
thermoelectric elements”, 29th international conference on
thermoelectrics, abstracts book ICT 2010, p61
Takeshi Yamagami
Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
Automobile R&D Center
[email protected]
Mitusmasa Sorazawa
Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
Automobile R&D Center
[email protected]
Tomohide Haraguchi
Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
Automobile R&D Center
[email protected]
Takatoshi Miyabe
Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
Automobile R&D Center
[email protected]
Shunji Takahashi
Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
Automobile R&D Center
[email protected]
DEFINITIONS/ABBREVIATIONS
BSFC
Brake Specific Fuel Consumption
FP
Fin Pitch
3. Mori, M., Yamagami, T., Oda, N., Hattori, M., Haraguchi,
T., Sorazawa, M., “Heat Recovery of Automobile Using
Thermoelectric Element and Its Effect on Fuel Economy”,
Honda R&D Technical Review, October 2009, Honda Motor
Co., Ltd., p.73-79
LA4 City
Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule
4. Ibaraki, S., Endo, T., Kojima, Y, Takahashi, K., Baba, T.,
Kawajiri, S., “Research of a Rankine Cycle On-Board Heat
Waste Recovery System”, JSAE paper 20065602
LA4 Highway
Highway Fuel Economy Dynamometer Driving
Schedule
5. LaGrandeur, J., Crane, D., Hung, S., Mazar, B., Eder, A.,
“Automotive Waste Heat Conversion to Electric Power using
Skutterudite, TAGS, PbTe and BiTe”, 2006 DEER
Conference
US06
Supplemental Federal Test Procedure
TE
Thermoelectric Element
TEG
Thermoelectric Generator
1276 SAE Int. J. Mater. Manuf. | Volume 4 | Issue 1
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