Automotive

Techrules looks to power everyday EVs and grids with micro-turbines

Techrules looks to power every...
Techrules works on its Turbine Recharging Electric Vehicle (TREV) technol
Techrules works on its Turbine Recharging Electric Vehicle (TREV) technology
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Techrules works on its Turbine Recharging Electric Vehicle (TREV) technol
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Techrules works on its Turbine Recharging Electric Vehicle (TREV) technology
After developing micro-turbine tech for its Ren supercar, Techrules is moving toward distributing it for other power supply uses
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After developing micro-turbine tech for its Ren supercar, Techrules is moving toward distributing it for other power supply uses
Techrules premieres the Ren supercar at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show
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Techrules premieres the Ren supercar at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show
Techrules premieres the Ren supercar at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show
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Techrules premieres the Ren supercar at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show
Techrules premieres the Ren supercar at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show
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Techrules premieres the Ren supercar at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show
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Those that know Techrules at all know it as the Chinese company behind the micro-turbine-powered, fighter jet-inspired Ren supercar, but it's making a push to be known far outside of supercar fanatic circles. The company is working to transform the range-extending micro-turbines powering up the motors of the 1,300-hp Ren into standalone generators for commercial and passenger car use. It'll start with a 45-kW version to wire into commercial electrical grids before shrinking the tech down even more to put inside everyday electric passenger cars.

With a triple-bubble canopy, laser lighting signature, blade-like rear fin and six-motor + dual-turbine drive layout, the Ren was a ridiculous creation with even more outlandish performance estimates — 1,287 hp, 1,243 miles (2,000 km) of total range and 31.5 mpg, just to pick out a few. But it served as a show-stopping testbed for something more interesting and potentially impactful: the efficient, versatile micro-turbine generator technology that Techrules is now developing into a more humble, mass market-friendly package.

Techrules premieres the Ren supercar at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show
Techrules premieres the Ren supercar at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show

Techrules announced this week that it will begin limited series production of a commercial micro-turbine generator unit in June, launching full-scale mass production by year-end. Sized down from the 80-kW turbines installed on the Ren, the 45-kW commercial unit will be designed to take the place of a diesel generator, either in powering systems like air conditioning and heating at remote sites or for use as a backup.

Each micro-turbine generator burns fuel like ethanol, methanol or biogas to produce electricity. Generated heat is captured for use as thermal energy, and Techrules imagines its tech finding use in large buildings and complexes, such as universities, hospitals and military bases. The turbines are designed to operate more efficiently and cleanly than other generators.

"We are currently in discussion with a number of potential customers in and outside of China," Matthew Jin, Techrules chief technology officer, explained in this week's announcement. "Selling the 45-kW turbine as a power generator will allow us to build up production volume quickly, which we expect to reach around 100,000 units over time. We are now finalizing negotiations with local municipalities regarding the site of the plant and are looking forward to starting production of the largest micro-turbine generator facility in the world."

After developing micro-turbine tech for its Ren supercar, Techrules is moving toward distributing it for other power supply uses
After developing micro-turbine tech for its Ren supercar, Techrules is moving toward distributing it for other power supply uses

The smaller 15-kW version is still under development for targeted use as a range-extender in passenger electric vehicles. Plans call for it to be ready for market by 2021.

As for the Ren that started it all, Techrules is putting it on the back burner for now to focus on the standalone turbines. It does affirm that it still plans to become an "automotive producer."

Source: Techrules

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14 comments
martinwinlow
Sorry, but *why on Earth* would you want to put a stinky, no-doubt, fossil-fuel-burning engine back into a perfectly good EV? It may be more efficient than a petrol or diesel engine but only marginally so. And it's still buring fossil fuels! (Please start don't wittering on about 'bio-fuels' - it's completely silly). Talk about a solution looking for a problem!!
Bob Stuart
Have these folks said anything about how they plan to beat diesel efficiency with available materials? Carnot demands the maximum peak temperature, and that has always meant intermittent combustion. Synthetic fuel from wind and air alone is now becoming economic, so I don't mind that.
-dphiBbydt
With that range and 31.5mpg it must have a 40 gallon fuel tank. My 2001 Nissan micra would cover 1200miles if I installed 40 gallon tank. With turbines they are generally all or nothing so you need battery storage that will take the very high power input (or use the power immediately). The 45 and 15kW turbines are interesting - the 15kW must be quite small. But as martinwinlow says, it's still nuts to burn anything to provide propulsion and they'd do better to convert that 40 gallons (which equals about 300 pounds) in to battery storage and have a slightly lower range. - Who drives 1200 miles in one stint?
aksdad
Only a range of 1200 miles on 20 gallons of fuel?!! Why not 5,000 miles? I can buy 5,000 lumen projectors from China for only $120. Brand name projectors with that power cost $3,000 or more, but here's the catch: their performance is pretty close to what they claim. Let someone test drive your car for 1200 miles, Techrules. Let's see how many times they have to refuel that 80-liter tank. Turbine engines are less efficient than piston engines, and micro-turbines are even less so. Heat recovery improves efficiency, but it's complicated, bulky, expensive, and it improves efficiency more the larger the turbine. Commercial 43 megawatt combined-cycle turbine power plants are much more efficient than 3 megawatt ones. An 80 kilowatt micro-turbine? Not so much. And two of them? Yeah, right. Get yourself a 150 gallon fuel tank and maybe we can go 1200 miles.
Dziks
That could be great tech for the EV popularization before proper batteries are developed. Hybrid cars could use these micro-turbines worldwide.
FB36
I for 1 think that current EVs (like Tesla) absolutely need a (micro-turbine) range extender (that can work w/ a variety of fuels like diesel & bio-diesel)! Because electric charging infrastructure for EVs still quite lacking (especially for long trips)! (& sometimes people do not have time to wait for charging!) (& why (bio-)diesel (not gasoline) because (bio-)diesel do not easily start a fire & burn you alive in accidents!)
Joe Henderson
dphiBbydt asked, "Who drives 1200 miles in one stint?" I've done it quite a few times, and still do some 1000+ mile days. It's 1000 miles just to get from one side of Texas to the other. Check out the Iron Butt Association--we do 1000-1500 miles in a day, on motorcycles.
Douglas Rogers
I am waiting for turbines to become cost competitive for home standby power.
Catweazle
"Sorry, but *why on Earth* would you want to put a stinky, no-doubt, fossil-fuel-burning engine back into a perfectly good EV?" --- So you can still get home when the battery goes flat?
Thud
This will eventually be the end of reciprocating ICE generators