In an attempt to lower fuel consumption and carbon emissions, BMW is currently testing a radioactive heat-collector called the thermoelectric generator that was originally intended to power space satellites. It is fitted to the exhaust where it traps waste heat channeled down to the exhaust. The company claims that they will be ready with a production version within five years.
The thermoelectric generator is basically radioactive material that produces electricity when heated. BMW placed this generator around the exhaust where it uses the heat from the exhaust to produce electricity. At this initial stage of development, BMW is already predicting a minimum of 5 percent in fuel savings.
It is estimated that about 30 percent of energy wastage by an internal combustion engine is channeled through the exhaust. Recovering some of this energy would contribute to a significant saving in overall efficiency.
This forecasted five percent savings is higher than the three percent savings of present stop-start and brake energy regeneration which are the current main Efficient Dynamic technologies.Project i, the future electric car program of BMW, is also right on track for its first production vehicle due to arrive in the first half of the next decade.
Currently under consideration are two three- and four-wheeled cars. The three-wheeled car is reminiscent of post-war Germany where such a wheel configuration was utilized to provide German transportation during that era.
The German carmaker has designated this project as the Megacity Vehicles and is delving deep into urban mobility in different cities with a minimum population of five million from those with freeways as the main thoroughfare to the more ancient and crowded European cities such as Barcelona in Spain.