Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Scott A Miers


The United States transportation industry is predicted to consume approximately 13 million barrels of liquid fuel per day by 2025. If one percent of the fuel energy were salvaged through waste heat recovery, there would be a reduction of 130 thousand barrels of liquid fuel per day. This dissertation focuses on automotive waste heat recovery techniques with an emphasis on two novel techniques.

The first technique investigated was a combination coolant and exhaust-based Rankine cycle system, which utilized a patented piston-in-piston engine technology. The research scope included a simulation of the maximum mass flow rate of steam (700 K and 5.5 MPa) from two heat exchangers, the potential power generation from the secondary piston steam chambers, and the resulting steam quality within the steam chamber. The secondary piston chamber provided supplemental steam power strokes during the engine's compression and exhaust strokes to reduce the pumping work of the engine. A Class-8 diesel engine, operating at 1,500 RPM at full load, had a maximum increase in the brake fuel conversion efficiency of 3.1%.

The second technique investigated the implementation of thermoelectric generators on the outer cylinder walls of a liquid-cooled internal combustion engine. The research scope

focused on the energy generation, fuel energy distribution, and cylinder wall temperatures. The analysis was conducted over a range of engine speeds and loads in a two cylinder, 19.4 kW, liquid-cooled, spark-ignition engine. The cylinder wall temperatures increased by 17% to 44% which correlated well to the 4.3% to 9.5% decrease in coolant heat transfer. Only 23.3% to 28.2% of the heat transfer to the coolant was transferred through the TEG and TEG surrogate material. The gross indicated work decreased by 0.4% to 1.0%. The exhaust gas energy decreased by 0.8% to 5.9%. Due to coolant contamination, the TEG output was not able to be obtained. TEG output was predicted from cylinder wall temperatures and manufacturer documentation, which was less than 0.1% of the cumulative heat release. Higher TEG conversion efficiencies, combined with greater control of heat transfer paths, would be needed to improve energy output and make this a viable waste heat recovery technique.