Analytical Instrumentation

  • What Are The Alternative Fuels for Cars? – Thermoelectric

What Are The Alternative Fuels for Cars? – Thermoelectric

Dec 01 2018 Read 406 Times

Around two thirds of energy produced in petrol and diesel vehicles is wasted as heat. This makes their energy efficiency relatively low, using only a small percentage of energy to power the vehicle. That’s where thermoelectric energy comes in. This post will look at this fascinating and innovative alternative fuel source and see how it could help protect our planet.

Wasting heat

Thermoelectrics are semi-conductive materials that can convert heat into electricity. If installed in your vehicle, the system could capture the wasted heat in your car and convert it into usable energy. In turn, it can reduce the fuel consumption of your vehicle and boost your fuel economy by up to 5%.

The generator works by packing thermoelectric materials between hot and cold side heat exchangers. The temperature difference between the two sides of the system generates electricity using the Seebeck Effect. While, at the moment, vehicles with thermoelectric generators are rare and not widely accessible, moving forward they may become a valuable energy source.


The primary benefit of a thermoelectric generator is to reduce fuel consumption. That has two main benefits – namely, saving the driver money on fuel and reducing the impact on the environment.

While a thermoelectric car still needs petrol or diesel to run, the amount of fuel you’ll be using will decrease as you’ll gain more energy from that which you already use. This reduces the amount of emissions being pumped out into the environment in the long-term, helping to combat pollution and slow the process global warming.


Strictly speaking, thermoelectricity isn’t an alternative fuel, as it only works in conjunction with other fuel sources, such as petrol or diesel. So, instead of presenting another option that could help protect the environment and provide an alternative, it simply improves the use of fuels we already have.

While this stands to be true, with further research and development, thermoelectricity could prove to be a valuable and renewable energy source, potentially converting all of the heat produced in a vehicle into energy. If used in a car fuelled with biofuel or hydrogen, for instance, it can provide a better, sustainable option.

Making a change

The price of oil shows no sign of dropping and the environment is in dire need of some care, making alternative fuels a more attractive option. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the first four parts of our six-part series to find out more about hydrogen, biofuel, LPG and electricity. Our final post will summarise the five alternative fuel sources.

If you want to know more about changes in the Petro industries, take a look at the article ‘Big Data, Smart Data and Big Analysis: What can the Petro-Industries learn from Big Pharma and the Allotrope Foundation, and where should the future lie?’.

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