A system that uses waste heat from the batteries of hybrid and electric vehicles to power a car’s climate control system is under development by a UK project team.
Zytek Electric Vehicles hopes to introduce a heat exchanger that can keep the car’s cabin warm in winter and cool in summer.
The batteries of hybrid and electric vehicles are good sources of energy because they warm up to between 270º and 340º when the chemical reaction takes place. Zytek’s vehicles use nickel and sodium chloride batteries.
The reaction that converts the two chemicals into sodium and nickel chloride could produce enough waste heat to power a climate-control system, it is believed.
The Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) will develop the heat exchanger on behalf of Zytek. Zytek believes that the heat exchanger could operate a climatecontrol system while the battery is being charged without consuming any extra power. T
he company’s project manager, Ian Harrop, said: ‘While it’s recharging, there’s a certain amount of battery that could be used to keep the cabin warm. With air conditioning, there’s a significant amount of power required, but there’s less power required if you want to keep it at a specific temperature.’
Work is also underway by Beta Research & Development — the original developer of the system — to make the nickel and sodium chloride battery more efficient.
Although MIRA’s work with the heat exchanger is unique for Zytek’s battery, known as the Zebra, other electric-vehicle manufacturers around the world use different types of battery, some of which produce less waste heat than the Zebra.
Zytek has already contributed towards Lotus Elise and Chrysler electric and hybrid vehicles. Its most high-profile project has been an electric hybrid Le Mans race car with Panoz. Work on each of these projects will be fed into drivetrain modelling for Zytek’s fleet of development vehicles.