BMW’s EfficientDynamics chief engineer mentioned in an interview that BMW is working on a system that is designed to take excess heat in the turbocharger system and convert it to electricity. Thermal power generation has also been shown previously by Honda, but has not been tested and tried by any European manufacturer. Mercedes has vowed last summer to explore converting it’s full line-up to turbocharged applications and Audi is hard at work at employing both Superscharger and Turbocharger systems amongst it’s lineup. However thremal power generation has yet to be mentioned by either one of those companies as a means to reduce emissions and increase power.
Mimicking similar statements made by Mercedes Benz last July, BMW’s EfficientDynamics chief engineer has revealed plans for the carmaker’s future powertrains and expressed his desire to see waste-exhaust power generation systems fitted across the lineup. As carmaker’s battle with tough environmental regulations being introduced across the United States and Europe, new and innovative methods of improving efficiency are being investigated in the quest to maintain power while reducing fuel consumption and emissions.
One of the simplest and most effective methods of boosting power while reducing displacement is the introduction of a turbocharger system, something BMW has done to great effect with its award-winning N54 3.0L straight-six engine. However, there are more advanced systems currently in development that could be making their way to production very soon.
Speaking with WhatCar?, BMW’s Dr Stephan Neugebauer said further efficiency improvements could be brought about via the introduction of heat-energy recovery systems – the heat being the wasted hot exhaust gases.
BMW is currently working on two designs: a ‘turbo steamer’ that uses the exhaust heat to create electricity and a similar set-up to store mechanical energy. In May the carmaker showed off a 5-series sedan with a thermoelectric generation system installed, and before that Honda showed off its own version of the technology.
Some of the technologies available include installing a special thermoelectric material that can generate electric simply by being heated, adding a turbine-generation system, or even something as simple as installing solar panels on the roof.
Neugebauer also revealed that he hoped BMW would be able to make it fall within a cost range that would allow it to fit it into all its cars.