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Jaguar's Gas Turbine Electric Vehicle Project wins funding

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January 27, 2010

Bladon Jets high efficiency micro gas turbine engine

Bladon Jets high efficiency micro gas turbine engine

Image Gallery (2 images)

The UK government-backed Technology Strategy Board recently announced the recipients of carbon reduction technology research project funding which sees a consortium made up of Jaguar Land Rover, SR Drives and led by Bladon Jets taking a GBP 1,103,392 (about US$1,790,000) slice of the multi-million GB-pound cake to develop "the world’s first commercially viable - and environmentally friendly - gas turbine generator designed specifically for automotive applications."

The consortium's project is amongst 16 successful applicants to receive the funding for proof of concept and six for research and development studies, the aim being "to develop an ultra-lightweight, gas turbine powered, electric vehicle range extender that will enable vehicle weight savings of 100kg or more and a modest reduction in CO2 emissions on the UNECE101 drive cycle. More substantial CO2 savings can be achieved in real world use. The small size, multi-fuel capability and potential low cost of the Ultra Lightweight Range Extender (ULRE) could also help speed adoption of electric vehicles."

Since 2007, the Technology Strategy Board has invested £74 million (about US$120 million) in over 50 low carbon projects and John Laughlin, the Board’s Low Carbon Vehicles programme manager, said of the latest investment: "We are funding innovative projects in a number of key areas which include internal combustion engine technologies, energy storage and management, lightweight structures and new propulsion technologies. The work will help to accelerate the reduction of carbon emissions and deliver mass-market low carbon road vehicles within 5 to 15 years."

If at first you don't succeed

Most of the big car manufacturers have been looking into implementing gas turbines in automobile engines since the 1950s and have invested millions of dollars in various projects but "these early efforts were thwarted by the dual problems of turbine lag (the 1 to 2 second delay from 'stepping on the gas' to the car accelerating) and poor fuel efficiency at low speed and idle."

As a result, the gas turbine engine has yielded numerous concept pieces but never really made it out of the testing environment which, given that the technology is independent of vulnerable petroleum fuel production (being able to run on a host of fuels,including natural gas and bio-fuels), is nothing short of frustrating. Perhaps it was just waiting for the day when technology could overcome its numerous niggling problems.

The consortium led by Bladon Jets hopes that its research into the use of gas turbine technology in electric and hybrid vehicles (which offer both high torque at low revs and improved efficiency) could realize that potential. The project will use Bladon's "patented, axial flow gas turbine engine coupled to a high speed generator utilising SR Drives’ proprietary switched reluctance technology" to extend the range of electrically-powered vehicles. Jaguar Land Rover, will use its many years of automotive experience (including the odd dabble into the world of gas turbine technology, as you can see in the gallery) to oversee the vehicle integration aspect of the consortium's ULRE.

Bladon's manufacturing process means its highly efficient turbines benefit from a size and weight reduction too, as well as requiring no water cooling system, oil or catalytic converter - which should result in cleaner combustion and fast warm up times. When blended with the "high efficiency, robustness, reliability, high temperature capability and operation over wide speed range" of the SR Drives Group technology, the consortium hopes that its innovation will help to "play a major role in the renaissance of the British automotive industry."

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
7 Comments

It's not the first. There was a company called Rosen Motors funded by one of the founders of Compaq in the mid-90's that made a gas turbine that could be used in a wide variety of cars.

The company tanked because at the time there was little demand for this kind of technology, particularly since the heat output required a lot of expensive materials and the peaky nature of turbines didn't blend well with automotive applications.

See this video

And this http://www.inc.com/magazine/19980601/939.html

Chris Maresca
27th January, 2010 @ 01:07 pm PST

I read the article you linked. It looks like Rosen brother did not fail because of the technology itself (even though you may have a point with expensive materials) but in the first place they were pioneering a "Microsoft or Intel business model" (supplying complete power train) in rigid and sclerotic car industry. Of course Detroit failed miserably to innovate (otherwise they would not crash the way they did) but they had this excuse of their "own innovation" so that they could refuse this one.

Another difference seems the flywheel. Rosen brothers were relying on flywheel for energy storage and fast surges of energy when needed. I think the flywheel must have been serious trouble. To achieve required power density you do need to have expensive materials (carbons). And of course you have to fight devilish gyro. Another issue is safety, also not solved. Battery/electric car solution is a much better way to go in particular if somebody else already supplies a perfected car. And in the last decade (or rather last five years) it looks like every manufacturer has some EV ambitions so you will have that fixed. After all....you are selling only RANGE EXTENDER and not a drive train. All in all, it looks like something somewhat different than what failed.

Wish them good luck.

nehopsa
27th January, 2010 @ 11:00 pm PST

Chrysler made a Turbine Car in 1963

Mark Klapheke
28th January, 2010 @ 02:07 pm PST

Turbine Tune Up

By Beulah E. Olson, © 1965

No pistons or rods - -

No crankshaft or anti-freeze - -

No major repair jobs - -

Yes, the turbine's a breeze.

For heat that is instant,

For smoothness of ride,

For places far distant,

We'll turbine-wise glide.

With Chrysler as leader - -

The auto's revised.

For engines much speedier

And smoother devised.

For people with get up

And engines to match,

Dear Chrysler, don't let up,

More turbines please hatch.

Mark Klapheke
28th January, 2010 @ 02:19 pm PST

Now if they'd just combine this turbine/generator with a bank of 'Ultracapacitors' we'd have some REAL getup and go!

Not to mention mpg of 150 or more!

- see

I'D BUY THAT!

PS: Imagine what this would do for the trucking industry.

Larry
29th January, 2010 @ 05:07 am PST

Actually, Jaguar-Rover IS most likely "the first" with automotive turbine technology, because. ironically, Rover Ltd experimented at length with a turbine-driven roadster over a half-century ago. I remember reading enthusiastic articles about it in Road & Track as a boy. The roadster looked good, too. Everything did, back then.

jacksafarik
30th January, 2010 @ 09:48 am PST

The turbine is an excellent candidate for an electric hybrid system. With 40% efficiency, it is even better than the diesel engine and much lighter weight per power ratio. Ceramic components, mastery of the NOx emissions, and using the electric motor to pressurize air for the compressor will go a long way to making a viable package for a medium to large size vehicle.

Grant-53
2nd March, 2010 @ 02:15 pm PST
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