Waste heat slashes fuel consumption

Fresh Science

A minor modification to your car could reduce fuel consumption by over seven per cent.

The Deakin University invention uses waste heat to reduce friction by warming the engine oil. A prototype has been built and tested and the inventors are now talking to the car manufacturers and developing an aftermarket conversion kit.

The system, which can be retrofitted, works by diverting waste heat to bring engine oil up to its optimal operating temperature. It was developed by researchers at Deakin University led by Mr Frank Will of the School of Engineering during his PhD project.

“Preliminary testing of our system has demonstrated fuel savings of over seven per cent as well as significant reductions in exhaust emissions,” Frank says.

The work is being presented through Fresh Science, a communication boot camp for early career scientists held at the Melbourne Museum. Frank was one of 16 winners from across Australia.

A typical car engine wastes about 80 per cent of the fuel consumed. Only 20 per cent of the fuel’s energy is used to drive the car forward. The rest is lost as heat. He believes his invention – which he has named OVER7™ – represents a smarter approach to vehicle engine design.

The Formula SAE racing car developed and built by a team at Deakin University (photo: Donna Edwards)

“One of its most important features is that it doesn’t have to heat all the oil in the sump. Instead, it heats only the active oil in the engine lubrication system. This makes the overall heat transfer process much more efficient.

“The system has the potential to be retrofitted to existing engines and we don’t think it will require big changes. It should be much cheaper to fit than an LPG conversion for example. Built into a new car it should pay for itself within a month or two,” he says.

“We also think the system will be suitable for a range of vehicles, including diesels, hybrids and those using alternative fuels.” Other benefits include the potential to reduce engine wear and improve performance.

“We were very pleased with the results of tests on our prototype system. Now we are working on further testing with car manufacturers and their suppliers, in order to optimise the technology to best suit their needs.”

Frank Will is one of 16 early-career scientists presenting their research to the public thanks to Fresh Science, a national program sponsored by the Australian Government.

Over the course of Fresh Science he will be presenting his work

  • at Tech on Tap, part of AMP’s Amplify Festival, in Sydney on Monday evening
  • over dinner with Australia’s Chief Scientist in Melbourne
  • to school students in Melbourne and Geelong.

For interviews, contact Frank Will on frank.will@deakin.edu.au

For Fresh Science, contact Sarah Brooker on 0413 332 489 or Niall Byrne on 0417 131 977 or niall@scienceinpublic.com.au

For Deakin University contact Sandra Kingston, Senior Media Officer, Deakin University, (03)9246-8221 Sandra.kingston@deakin.edu.au,

The three components for the OVER7 waste heat recovery invention (photo: Donna Edwards)

The Formula SAE racing car developed and built by a team at Deakin University (photo: Donna Edwards)

In the lab with students testing different heat exchanger efficiencies (photo: Donna Edwards)