UK Government Funds Jet Turbine-Powered Jaguar-Land Rover EVs

Well how cool is this? The British government will be funding research into using jet turbines as onboard generators for electric vehicles. The U.K.’s Technology Strategy Board awarded $1.8 million in funding to Jaguar-Land Rover, Bladon Jets and SR Drives. The turbine-based range extender will use a small jet turbine capable of burning a wide range of fuels to generate electricity to extend the range of electric vehicles.

Although it sounds about as practicable as using a blowtorch to get inside a gumball machine, there are number advantages in using an axial-flow micro turbine, e.g. a jet engine. They can be manufactured to be very compact in size, be light weight, and at low cost. Using a turbine for primary drive systems in personal vehicles has proven unrealistic due to a lack of low-end torque, noise, expense, and high fuel consumption. But using a small axial-flow micro turbine to provide on-board recharging of electric batteries appears to be a legitimate solution.

Like a number of car manufacturers, the Rover Company, Jaguar-Land Rover’s predecessor, experimented in jet-powered cars in the 1950s. Rover built a car called the JET1, the first ever jet-powered passenger car. It was capable of 88 mph at 50,000 rpm, and could run on gasoline, kerosene, or diesel. The JET1 concept generated a race car developed with the BRM Formula One team that the great Graham Hill co-drove at the 24 Hours of Le Mans that could top out at 142 mph. Although the technology sort-of worked on a track, it proved too inefficient and expensive for production-car use.

Fast forward to today, and the consortium of British companies behind the micro-turbine tech says it can save up to 220 pounds over a gasoline-powered range-extending piston engine, like the engine used in the upcoming Chevy Volt. Not only will using a turbine cut weight, but it will also cut CO2 emissions slightly. The developer of the micro turbine, Bladon Jets, says a suitable turbine is just 5 percent of the size, weight and parts count of a typical piston engine.

The technology isn’t expected to make it into road-going cars for another 5 to 15 years, but it’s still a pretty cool idea.

Source: Motor Authority

About The Author

Tony Borroz grew up in a sportscar oriented family, but sadly, it was British cars. His knuckles still show the marks of slipped Whitworth sockets, strains to reach upper rear shock bushings on Triumphs, and slight burn marks from dealing with Lucas Electric "systems." He has written for a variety of car magazines and websites, Automoblog chief among them. Tony has worked on popular driving games as a content expert, in addition to working for aerospace companies, software giants, and as a movie stuntman. He currently lives in a secure, undisclosed location in the American southwestern desert.

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