Researchers at Cardiff University have unveiled plans to turn waste heat from exhaust pipes into a green power supply for vehicles.
The project will be led by Professor Mike Rowe, a specialist in thermoelectric generation which employs thermocouples to convert heat into electricity.
Professor Rowe explained that the conversion technology is used in everyday applications such as controlling central heating systems and refrigerator temperature.
"The main interest in cars is to decrease petrol consumption and reduce CO2 emissions," he said. "If you can utilise the exhaust heat you could replace the alternator providing a five per cent saving in fuel straightaway."
Vehicle manufacturers in the US are already investing in the technology, but Professor Rowe complained that interest in the UK is lukewarm.
"Thermoelectric generation is a green solution and can cost less than solar energy in many instances," he said. "It has huge future potential but has been neglected to date in the UK."
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