Amerigon Incorporated has been awarded an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to lead the development of an energy recovery system that uses waste heat from engine exhaust and converts it into electric power. The grant is part of $175 million in DOE awards for 40 projects to accelerate advanced vehicle research and development.
Amerigon will share the $8 million grant with project partners including Ford, BMW of North America, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)/California Institute of Technology, and Faurecia Emissions Controls Technologies.
The four-year project will also specify how the new energy recovery system can be successfully commercialized “on the scale needed to positively impact the reduction of greenhouse gasses,” according to the DOE grant.
Amerigon is perhaps best known for its Climate Control Seat System that uses thermoelectric technology to actively heat and cool seats in vehicles made by many automotive manufacturers. That technology consumes energy of course.
Amerigon began working on DOE-funded thermoelectric projects in 2005 by leading a project to develop and evaluate a system for waste heat recovery in BMW and Ford vehicles. This new taxpayer funded project builds upon that program, which is nearing completion with as yet no announced production applications. However, both BMW and Ford now have working prototypes of a generator that Amerigon claims is currently producing a significant amount of electricity.
With this new round of DOE funding, Amerigon and partners will begin to address the manufacturability and commercialization of this potentially breakthrough technology.
“We believe our thermoelectric technology will demonstrate important advances in energy efficiency in passenger cars, which will also cut down on the emissions of harmful environmental pollutants such as carbon dioxide gas,” said Daniel R. Coker, Amerigon CEO.