As with a few previous posts, we will admit that today’s moment will not have an immediate impact on how much you spend on gasoline. Automakers, however, are diligently working on numerous innovations that will increase mileage in years to come.
One of the most promising developments is a new thermoelectric material designed by researchers at Ohio State University and Caltech in Pasadena. These scientists noticed that while 25% of an engine’s energy is used to move the car and run accessories like the power windows, the rest simply piddles out through the exhaust pipe.
With a new thermoelectric system in place, heat exhaust would be captured and converted to electricity, which could power a vehicle well beyond the gas in the tank. The technology has been around for a while, but with oil at $20 a barrel, the economics never worked in innovation’s favor.
The larger point is that automakers are now racing to increase vehicle efficiency, so if you can just hold out a few years (perhaps five in the case of this thermoelectric system), the car you buy in 2013 could be considerably more efficient than the one you buy in 2009.
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