Evaluation of Advanced Automotive Seats to Improve Thermal Comfort and Fuel Economy: SAE Paper No. 2005-01-2056

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Automotive ancillary loads have a significant impact on the fuel economy of both conventional and advanced vehicles. Improving the delivery methods for conditioned air is an effective way to increase thermal comfort at little energy cost, resulting in reduced air conditioning needs and fuel use. Automotive seats are well suited for effective delivery of conditioned air due to their large contactarea with and close proximity to the occupants. Normally a seat acts as a thermal insulator, increasing skin temperatures and reducing evaporative cooling of sweat. Ventilating a seat has low energy costs and eliminates this insulating effect while increasing evaporative cooling. The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has applied a combination of experimentaltesting and modeling to quantify improved thermal comfort and potential fuel savings by using a ventilated seat. The thermal comfort improvement can be used to reduce the A/C heat capacity by 4%, resulting in a predicted A/C fuel use reduction of 2.8% on an EPA highway cycle and 4.5% on an EPA city cycle. This is a 0.3%-0.5% reduction in total vehicle fuel use when the A/C system is on; whilemodest for an individual car, the potential fuel savings is significant on a national level.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2005
EventVehicle Thermal Management Systems Conference and Exhibition - Toronto, Canada
Duration: 1 May 20051 May 2005


ConferenceVehicle Thermal Management Systems Conference and Exhibition
CityToronto, Canada

Bibliographical note

Posted with permission. Presented at the Vehicle Thermal Management Systems Conference and Exhibition, May 2005, Toronto, Canada

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-540-37693


  • ADAM
  • advanced automotive seats
  • automotive climate control
  • automotive passenger comfort
  • thermal comfort tools
  • vehicle ancillary loads
  • vehicle climate control laboratory
  • ventilated automotive seats


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