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Factoid: 70 percent of fuel energy consumed in car engines is dissipated as heat. Finding a way to conserve that energy, and use it to generate electrical power to run cars' systems, is the goal of researchers at GM and BMW. They're using advances in nanotechnology to develop thermoelectric materials for such systems — which could, say, harvest heat from an exhaust pipe — to increase fuel efficiency by replacing cars' alternators with heat-electricity generators. First applications will likely be niche uses — one supplier is already selling thermoelectric car-seat heating and cooling units.

Free Power for Cars [Technology Review]

Related:
Nano Nano: Scientists Build Molecular 'Car' [internal]