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QinetiQ partners with CSIRO to further develop Australian thermoelectric technology


QinetiQ Australia has been awarded a $3.6M grant through the Defence Innovation Hub (DIH) to further develop innovative Australian thermoelectric technology that has been developed by CSIRO, into an application that would provide significant performance and operational benefits for maritime platforms.

QinetiQ partnering with CSIRO developing thermoelectric technology

In partnership with Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, QinetiQ will explore novel designs for a Thermoelectric Generator (TEG) heat recovery system that uses the heat in engine exhaust gases to generate electricity, optimising heat recovery and efficiency in ships and submarines.

Dr Colin Cockroft, QinetiQ Australia’s Power & Energy Capability Manager, said TEG will improve the operational capability of Australian submarines and ships by reducing their signature and improving their endurance. It may also have applications in industry and across other platforms such as vehicles, trains and heavy machinery to reduce fuel usage and operational costs.

“The Thermoelectric Generator will convert waste heat into electrical energy that can be used to reduce the load on conventional generators and reduce their fuel consumption and thermal signature,” he said.

“Current diesel engine generators are up to 40% efficient. This means that at least 60% of the energy in diesel is lost as heat. Capturing and using some of this waste heat will reduce the vessels fuel consumption and reduce the frequency of refuelling.”

Greg Barsby, QinetiQ Australia’s Managing Director, said the funding was an important investment in sovereign Australian technologies and industrial capability.

“TEG is another example of QinetiQ’s ability to collaborate with Australia’s world-leading research and industry partners to develop scientific and engineering solutions that deliver operational advantage to the Australian Defence Force,” he said.

The thermoelectric heat recovery system developed under this project will initially be focused on the Collins Class submarine but could be adapted to all Royal Australian Navy (RAN) vessels and merchant fleets in the future.

The technology could also be applied to Defence vehicles to supplement the electricity supply for ancillary systems and contribute to the energy requirements of hybrid drive trains.

Early estimates indicate energy savings several times greater than other thermoelectric materials trialled in the USA, indicating export potential for Australian IP or manufactured equipment. This has the potential to create local jobs and support Australia’s move to a nation known for its advanced manufacturing and technology exploration.

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