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Waste Heat Cooling

July 6, 2011

A prototype cooling system runs on waste heat from car exhaust.



Cooling from heat…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When your car’s engine burns gas, only a fraction of the resulting energy actually makes the car go. The rest dissipates, mainly as heat from the radiator and tailpipe. Now, Oregon State University mechanical engineer Hailei Wang and his colleagues have built a cooling system that runs on this sort of waste heat. Their prototype can convert 80 percent of the energy from wasted heat into cooling capability.

HAILEI WANG (Oregon State University):

And that power could potentially also convert to electricity by attaching a generator.


Wang says the cooling system could be used not only for air conditioning, but also to cool a car’s on-board electronics so they run faster and more efficiently. Heat-generated electricity, on the other hand, could be used to charge the car’s batteries. And the technology could transferred to many other industrial processes, which have a similar problem with wasted energy. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.