GM captures energy used in engine testing

(June 30, 2012) TORINO, Italy — As visitors to the General Motors Powertrain Engineering Center in Torino walk the halls, they can often hear the whirring of engines being tested. But what they can’t hear is the excess energy being transferred back to the grid.

Within a year, the center has harvested 300,000 kilowatt hours of energy from test benches — equipment that tests various measures of a running engine.

This excess energy would normally be lost to the atmosphere. Now GM captures it to power all of the facility’s computers.

“Energy efficiency represents an important component of GM’s global production,” said Pierpaolo Antonioli, managing director of the General Motors Powertrain Engineering Center. “This initiative helps us operate our facility at its energy-efficient best on a daily basis, thanks to the ingenuity of our team and recent investment in our facility.”

The plant runs 15 test benches, with five more on the way, as engineers design fuel-efficient engines for Chevrolet and Opel. The idea to put the excess energy to better use fell in line with the company’s sustainability goals.

GM’s Pontiac (Mich.) Engineering Center also sends energy from engine testing back to the grid. Since 2008, it has regenerated more than 26.7 million kilowatt hours of energy to power internal processes. This is the equivalent of the electricity consumed by 2,326 U.S. households in one year.