PORTLAND -- Engineers at Oregon State University have come up with a way to recycle exhaust and use it to help power cars.

Drivers hope that will help cut down on their trips to the gas station.

If there s a way to convert the exhaust from this car and make the fuel efficiency better, I m all for it, said Vancouver driver Mike Eckhardt.

OSU research associate Hailei Wang said he has developed technology that makes recycling exhaust possible.

You basically improve your fuel or energy efficiency by converting unused waste heat to energy, explained Wang.

The process would capture the exhaust from millions of automobiles and use that energy to power, for example, a car's air conditioner, radiator, or even its battery.

If you don't use it, it s energy just wasted, said Wang.

Wang says only about 30 percent of the energy a car engine generates is currently used. Putting some of the wasted energy to use would not only cut down on fuel consumption and costs, it would also help the environment.

There s no additional burning of fuel, said Wang. There s no additional pollution or no additional contribution to greenhouse effect.

Wang said the technology could also be used to cool homes; wasted heat from a water heater could power an air conditioner.

Instead of using electricity for a conventional air conditioner, we re using heat, he explained.

Wang said the technology will likely first be used in semi-trucks, and eventually move into cars.

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