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Thermoelectric Green Car from ITRI (Taiwan)

Our plan is to recover the waste heat of cars and use it for power generation using the proactive thermoelectric material technology. This plan is expected to reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, thereby improving fuel efficiency.


Detailed Solution description

The thermoelectric material and module technology developed by this plan obtained an award in the R&D 100 Awards in 2012, standing out from thousands of innovative technologies in the competition. The current situation of technology industrialization: the R&D result of the plan has been transferred to Sinosteel to produce electricity with the waste heat produced in the steel-making process. 

This plan applies to the heat recovery of cars’ exhaust pipe in a wide temperature range, including materials, modules, packaging, laminating and converter development. The temperature range of thermoelectric materials can be between normal temperature and 500°C . Currently, the best pyroelectricity grade can reach 1.57 between normal temperature and 500°C; the best pyroelectricity grade can reach 1.57 between 200°C and 500°C; these are the maximum performances published in the world. 

Over 60% of the energy produced by cars burning gasoline dissipates in the air in the form of heat. The US Department of Energy plans that after 2015, there will be a 3~5% increase in fuel efficiency with thermoelectric generators for cars manufactured in America. Based on this, our plan will be to recover the waste heat of cars and use it for power generation using the proactive thermoelectric material technology. This plan is expected to reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, thereby improving fuel efficiency. 


The most direct way to improve fuel efficiency is to recycle heat energy. Since car space is limited and it needs a way to recycle heat energy from normal temperature to 500°C and improve fuel efficiency, the most feasible way is to convert waste heat to electric energy using thermoelectric materials, which can reduce generator load and improve fuel efficiency. As cars have a very large dynamic range when moving, the rapid maximum power point tracking method must be used so that the energy can be converted effectively. This plan conducts technological innovation mainly in thermoelectric material, module packaging and energy management. 

Thermoelectric Material 

ITRI added a highly reliable nanostructure into thermoelectric materials to increase the probability of phonon scattering, reduce the coefficient of heat conduction without affecting other thermoelectric properties, and improve the quality and efficiency of pyroelectricity. In addition to the cryogenic material BiTe, the Lab has shown its thermoelectric material technology as world leading technology in the development of the high-temperature thermoelectric materials TAGS and PbTe. 


Module Packaging 

ITRI developed a metallic compound consisting of a nano silver contact surface, which can operate through high temperature bonding and packing of thermoelectric materials, thermoelectric module lamination and high-efficiency thermoelectric heat exchange exhaust pipe. The Lab also constructed thermoelectric modules to evaluate the Seebeck effect rapidly by measuring the environment. The substance provides excellent pyroelectricity application solutions and can be used in TEG, TEC, engine waste recovery, thermoelectric cooling, and even personal seat air conditioning. 


Energy Management 

ITRI developed digital power. They developed a high-efficiency power management system to capture energy using a high-resolution hybrid DPWM. This DPWM can reduce energy conduction impedance with the maximum power point tracking method and enable cars to have superexcellent thermoelectric energy recovery efficiency through a rapid energy tracking algorithm while running in downtown areas. 


Launch Date

Implementation began on


Solution Partners


  • Professional contact
    Li-Ren Huang