Scraping ice off a frozen windshield and nursing a cold, stalling engine could become ghosts of winters past. Schatz Thermo Engineering in Munich has devised a "heat battery" that will warm a car's engine and heater just 30 seconds after startup.
Looking like a two-gallon thermos and weighing 12 pounds, the battery gathers engine heat by running hot coolant through a chemical salt and water mixture. This mixture is then stored in copper fins that are enclosed in a steel-walled vacuum. The vacuum insulates the cocktail, keeping it hot for up to a week.
When the car engine is turned on, a small electric pump pushes coolant past the fiery mix, where it picks up heat. With a flip of a switch, the hot coolant can be directed toward either the engine or the car's heater. By eliminating cold starts, the device cuts carbon dioxide emissions in half and reduces wear on the engine. For about $500, Saab-Scania and Volkswagen plan to install Schatz' heat battery as an option in their cars. The Big Three U. S. carmakers are also eyeing the battery.