Automotive

Delta MiTRE boxes up micro-turbine power for EV range extending

Delta MiTRE boxes up micro-tur...
Delta hopes to get EVs driving farther with turbine power
Delta hopes to get EVs driving farther with turbine power
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Delta E4 Coupe
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Delta E4 Coupe
Delta hopes to get EVs driving farther with turbine power
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Delta hopes to get EVs driving farther with turbine power

It remains to be seen whether turbines will take the automotive market by storm or not, but there are definitely some people interested in getting behind turbine-electric vehicles. This year alone, we've seen a turbine-electric Mack truck, an even more high-tech iteration of a turbine big rig, and two full-blown Chinese micro-turbine supercars. We can add the MiTRE to that list. This micro-turbine range-extender from British engineering solutions company Delta Motorsport is the latest product promising a solution to EV range anxiety that's lighter and more versatile than a piston engine hybrid drive.

With support from Innovate UK, Delta Motorsport is developing the MiTRE as a range-extending solution for electric vehicles. The idea is to use the system to develop the electricity needed to give electric vehicles driving ranges in line with traditional gas and diesel vehicles without relying on a piston engine like the typical hybrid.

Unlike the run-of-the-mill piston engine, turbines can operate on a variety of fuels, giving owners more flexibility and potential for cleaner driving. Delta also estimates that a 35-kW (47-hp) MiTRE will be 50 percent lighter and 40 percent smaller than an equivalent piston engine, running with low emissions at between 30 and 35 percent thermal efficiency.

"One of the main issues seemingly holding electric cars back is the lack of range, but this technology changes that," says Delta managing director Simon Dowson. "We demonstrated proof of concept when we fitted one of the prototypes to our E4 Coupe electric sports car, and our projections show the cost of the system is low enough to be attractive to the automotive market, so we have a really potent solution to advance the take-up of electric vehicles."

British auto companies Ariel and Morgan have teamed up with Delta to further develop 17-kW and 35-kW versions of the MiTRE. That's interesting not only because of the unique cars they build, but because those small, lightweight cars are a much different potential landing place for turbine-electric technology than the tractor trailers and flagship supercars we've seen that tech concentrated around in the past.

So perhaps we'll see a turbine-backed Morgan EV3 or Ariel Aero-P (EV) concept in the future. For now, though, we'll leave you with a photo of Delta's E4 Coupe, which we looked at briefly a few years ago.

Delta E4 Coupe
Delta E4 Coupe

Source: Delta Motorsport

17 comments
BigBill
Interesting concept, however its far from new and ground breaking.....a little city in southeast Tn (chattanooga) had/has a full size bus/shuttle that is turbine assisted electric also with regen braking to replenish its battery, they were doing a proof of concept over 10 years ago, other than control system problems it was a success I believe, I got to ride in it daily for 4years
Mzungu_Mkubwa
This is the future of hybrid vehicles, bottom line. The multitude benefits make it the clear front runner in the competitive field, and IMO, those who ignore this option will be left in the dust within the next decade. Love seeing another contender in this game, too. I hope many more will enter, driving normalized pricing and wide adoption. Until (and even after) a proper electric-storage tech is established, there will be a need for liquid fuel assistance for electric vehicles. BTW, how awesome would this be in a light aircraft, or even a human-carrying multicopter?
Martin Hone
Lacking in a lot of tech info here, but I like the concept. Where did they source the turbine ? Is it a model aircraft engine ? A small tubine running at constant full throttle where it is most efficient could be the answer for sure, but again, no details in fuel consumption or price, the two things that usually work against turbines.
jakey1234
Excellent technology for an EV but why lug around something that is only needed for few occasions. I have always been wedded to the idea that we need a stock standard EV for the regular 90-95% of our daily driving and then use the option of renting whatever vehicle we want for whatever purpose we have.
MD
Jakey1234 Is that why you own a Nissan leaf for every-day driving and hire an M5 every time you drive long distance, or on a freeway (even in a whim or spur-of-the-moment change of plans)... Nice Idea, doesn't really work in the current paradigm.
GWA111
The thing that is actually holding back EV's from being bigger in the market place is the cost. The initial purchase - huge, the required maintenance - even bigger again, replacement parts - forget it. EV companies need to stop thinking that being green is a license to print money. As soon as they do that, they will sell a lot more. If governments stepped in and offered to help affordability of the common person - sales would sky rocket. Petrol giants will however, always try to block this. BTW, EV's are not any more environmentally friendly than standard cars - we still mine for raw materials, the plastics still require petro-chemicals, there is still a massive carbon footprint - and credit points do not work, don't be stupid, mother earth does not care if you plant a tree then dig out a mine - the mining still decimates
LostYeti
@GWA111 - I agree the initial purchase price is steep (but falling) along with the cost of parts, but that's mostly an economies of scale issue which should reduce over time. But the amount of maintenance and associated costs are actually much less for EVs as there are far fewer moving parts, less fluids that need changing and things like brake pads can last the life of car due to regenerative breaking.
Grunchy
This technology is very old-school. It peaked in the 1950s on locomotives, known as "GTEL" or gas-turbine electric locomotive technology. Turbines had much better power/weight ratio & less/easier maintenance than the diesel that replaced it. GTEL ultimately never caught on, the problem is the torque curve on a diesel engine was much flatter. GTEL was ideal for long distance, high speed runs (from Wikipedia). On an EV this technology makes abundant good sense, because the turbine can run flat-out & supply whatever motive power is required, and the excess power directed to replenish the storage battery. I'm a fan because I've always wanted a jet-powered batmobile, whereas a jet-powered electric supercar probably has the potential to be superior in every way. THIS is the engine they should have invented for the Elio/Aptera/Volt/Chrysler Turbine/whatever.
FutorInventor
This reminds me of an idea I submitted to the Ford Motor Company about 8 years ago of attaching an electric generator to the output shaft of a turbo charger to produce electricity to charge the batteries of a gasoline electric hybrid vehicle. The design would do away with feeding air from the turbocharger into the engine in order to save fuel, since more air means more gasoline in order to maintain the proper stoichiometric ratio needed for cimbustion, hence higher fuel consumption. They liked the concept but stated they would not do anything with it, as they were already committed to the conventional hybrid vehicle design. I thought to myself, here is a concept that uses otherwise wasted energy from the exhaust to produce electricity needed to charge the batteries of a gasoline- electric hybrid vehicle and they won't do anything with it! Priceless.
ChrisWalker
still dont understand why they cant turn the rims into large alternators using either brushes or magnets so the faster you go the electricity you create so the faster you can go and the longer you can go because you are constently generating your own energy supply. your only problem would be stuck in traffic, but with the right battery and somply turning car off...