Turbine Engine Hybrids for Trucks
Turbine engines are lighter and more efficient than piston engines, but they are best run at constant speed -- something that automobile and truck engines cannot do. But if you use an integrated small turbine engine to charge the battery for an electric vehicle, the turbine fits perfectly into the system. More from Brian Westenhaus:
In total efficiency turbos win. For thermal efficiency a diesel would win, but add in the mechanical efficiency and the turbo wins. Internal combustion with pistons, rods, cranks, and the valve gear generate lots of friction and resistance. And turbines weigh much less allowing for more battery or capacitor capacity.
The design characteristics of Capstone’s turbine permits ultra-low emissions, high-fuel economy, multi-fuel capability, no coolants or lubricating oil, and little to no maintenance in hybrid electric vehicle applications.
Another angle is the fuel, turbines can use a much wider range of products than a diesel, permitting much more versatility in choice and cost control. Capstone’s microturbine technology offers many benefits, including an extremely low emission levels that meet the most stringent CARB and EPA 2010 requirements without any exhaust after-treatment. That’s a major point alone.
...Light weight, multifuel, low emissions, very high efficiency, no coolants, little or no lubrication oil, and a dramatically lower maintenance cost – micro turbines have a bright future when the unit cost comes down. _NewEnergyandFuel
Such turbine hybrids may find a place in locomotives and marine freight uses. Diesels are powerful and efficient, but cannot adapt to as many fuel types as turbines. Sometime in the intermediate future, that may be the deciding factor.