Researchers at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft for Physical Measurement Techniques in Germany are working on a thermoelectric generator that converts the heat from car exhaust fumes into electricity. The thermoelectric module feeds the energy into the car's electronic systems, reducing fuel consumption and carbon dioxide from vehicles.
Thermoelectric generators convert heat into electricity through use of a temperature gradient. Driven by the heat flow between the hot exhaust fumes and the cold side of the coolant pipe, the charge carriers pass through special semiconductors, generating electric current similar to a battery's. The researchers hope to produce enough electricity from the thermoelectric generator to make the vehicle's alternator unnecessary.