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Study of the Energy Recovery Potential in Low Displacement Internal Combustion Engines with Thermoelectric Generators

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In the present study, an investigation of the capacity of thermoelectric generators applied to internal combustion engines has been carried out by quantifying the effects of torque, rotation speed and the temperature of the cooling flow on the performance and efficiency of electrical power recovered. For the study, a single-cylinder diesel engine has been used, in which its exhaust system has been fitted with a rectangular tube equipped with 20 thermoelectric modules. Various operating conditions have been defined in the engine, in which the levels of torque and rotation speed have varied in a range of 3-7 Nm and 3100-3700 rpm. Additionally, three different temperatures in the refrigeration flow, 21 °C, 24 °C, and 27 °C, have been evaluated. The analyses carried out show that the increase in torque and the speed of rotation produce an increase in the temperature of the exhaust gases, which implies a greater capacity for energy recovery.  An increase of 1 Nm and 300 rpm leads to an increase of 36% and 61% in the generated electrical power. The reduction in the temperature of the cooling flow allows a greater amount of thermal energy to be extracted from the exhaust gases. Overall, a 3 °C decrease in temperature has caused a 2.5% increase in extracted heat. This is reflected in the increase in voltage-current curves. For the tested engine conditions, a maximum conversion energy efficiency of 2.61% has been obtained. However, this can be increased by implementing improvements to the TEG.
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Energy Recovery; Engine; Power; Thermoelectric Generators; Thermoelectric Module

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