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Electric Vehicles

Hybrid cars can be engineered and built to use heat-to-electric technology to significantly increase fuel mileage. At present, most of the heat produced from burning fuel in a car powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE) is lost as waste heat, and much of it is “higher quality” heat that is especially suitable for conversion to electricity. Auto companies have pursued research on systems to generate electricity from this waste heat, but Neothermal’s technology is the first that is sufficiently robust to do this effectively. While there are engineering challenges to developing appropriate heat exchangers, the increased energy available for vehicle propulsion would significantly increase fuel mileage. This technology might also be retrofitted to existing hybrids, as suggested recently by McKinsey & Company.

More importantly, cars and other vehicles will be all-electric in the future. The only real question is whether they will store centrally generated electricity in batteries (the plug-in car) or whether they will carry energy in a higher density format than batteries permit, and then generate electricity at the vehicle itself. Neothermal’s heat-to-electric technology is well-suited to the latter kind of power system.

With today’s gasoline-based infrastructure, electric cars could be powered by catalytically burning gasoline and then converting that heat to electric energy with Neothermal’s technology. That would avoid much of the inefficiencies of today’s ICE power system, and fuel mileage should increase substantially using this power system. It would also address some of the major problems of EV battery systems – namely, energy and power densities, as well as the cost and weight of batteries.

The next generation of heat-to-electric cars would eliminate petro-fuels completely. Rather than burning gasoline to generate thermal energy, other robust sources of heat can be used that produce no greenhouse gases and are suitable for mobile energy sources because of their high combustion energy density. The extent to which a new infrastructure would be necessary to maintain such power systems – in lieu of the present gasoline delivery system – would depend upon the specific materials used as the thermal energy medium.