Qatari non-profit organization Gulf Organization for Research and Development (GORD) launched a low emissions car at the 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 18) in Doha. The car was designed and developed in Qatar.
Revealed during a press conference at the Qatar National Convention Centre, the car in addition to an internal combustion engine, includes an automotive thermoelectric generator designed to capture waste heat to produce hydrogen. GORD expects the heat waste collecting system to be compatible with any gasoline or compressed natural gas car.
GORD chairman Dr Al-Horr summarised the key concepts of the invention in a statement saying, “Our car produces electricity at no cost by capturing thermal waste energy, reducing costs and eliminating the need for an external source of electricity. Also, bulky compressed-hydrogen cylinders are a thing of the past, as our concept accomplishes the production of hydrogen by using water through fuel cells integrated within the car.”
Most of the energy in Qatari vehicle comes from the the car’s gasoline tank, supplemented by a thin film photo-voltaic panel on the roof. Normally in a combustion engine, chemical energy stored in a fuel, such as gasoline, is converted into heat energy through combustion. This heat energy is then converted into mechanical energy, manifested as an increase in pressure in the combustion chamber due to the kinetic energy of the combustion gases. The kinetic energy of these combustion gases are then converted into work; because of the inefficiencies in converting chemical energy into useful work, internal combustion engines have a theoretical maximum effiecincy of 37% (with what is achievable in day to day applications being about half of this). Of the chemical energy in the consumed fuel used by an internal combustion engine 40% is dissipated as waste heat. However, the Qatari vehicle uses a thermoelectric generator to convert this waste heat into electricity. Such generators are used in space vehicles, and produce electricity when thermoelectric materials are subjected to a temperature gradient, the greater the gradient the greater the amount of electrcity produced. In the GORD vehicle the electricity produced is used to electrolyse potable water to produce hydrogen which can be introduced into the vehicle’s existing fuel system.
The researchers showed that the heat waste collection engine caused a decrease in the car’s emissions, including a decrease of carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide emissions by more than 50%, the fuel efficiency increasing by 20%. On its website, GORD said that the heat waste collector engine is universal, “Any car can be adapted to accommodate the system as it doesn’t alter any electro-mechanical systems”.