GMZ Energy’s new thermoelectric generator represents a potential breakthrough in thermal technology as it is capable of capturing heat from the exhaust of vehicles and then converting it into useable energy.
Funded by Army and Department of Energy researchers, the military is hoping the new generator can help save billions of dollars a year by greatly reducing fuel consumption on Army tanks.
Recently, GMZ’s thermoelectric generator successfully passed its first round of testing by spilling out an incredible 1000W from the company’s diesel prototype.
Essentially, thermoelectric generators convert thermal energy into electric energy by applying heat to one side of the module and cold to the other side.
Cheryl Diuguid, CEO of GMZ Energy, said, “All you really need is to put the module against the heat, capturing the heat out of the exhaust, then have a way to capture the cool water.”
Sounds simple enough? Kind of…
The most difficult part of the development process is designing a thermoelectric generator small enough to work within a tank engine block but durable enough to survive and operate in extremely high temperature environments.
Diuguid told TheBlaze, “The difference between other examples of fuel efficiency solutions and ours is they all moving parts. But when you are in a battlefield situation you don’t want something breaking down. Fuel efficient, thermoelectric options are attractive, but they’ve been too delicate to be deployed. Our nano technology processes added the necessary mechanical strength.”
The military has tested thermoelectric generators and other reusable energy solutions for years but discovered none could withstand the rigors of the battlefield.
For the first time, GMZ Energy’s thermoelectric generator gives the military a generator they can confidently use in a wartime environment.
Diuguid added, “The challenge we’ve had there is some level of security on the project so we didn’t even get hard defined specs to use. They gave us indicative specs and said, ‘You’re in the right ballpark,’ but we don’t get to know exactly what they will do with it.”
On average, the military consumes about $4.6 Billion gallons of fuel each year. An M-1 Abrams tank will blow through 300 gallons of fuel on an eight-hour mission, meaning finding a way to reduce fuel consumption costs could save the military a ton of money.
“During [the] initial lab demonstration, the 1,000W TEG, which exceeded several of the TARDEC program’s specifications, ran continuously for five hours with no failure or degradation in performance,” GMZ said. “The U.S. military is especially interested in cost-saving thermoelectric technologies … which can be integrated into passenger vehicles, enable self-powered boilers and much more.”
TARDEC is set to begin testing GMZ’s thermoelectric generator in Bradley Fighting Vehicles soon to make sure the gadget is 100% viable in the field.