China-based automotive research company reveals turbine-electric hypercar
1 March 2016

Techrules has showcased its Turbine-Recharding Electric Vehicle (TREV) technology in a new hypercar, at this year’s Geneva motor show.

TREV is a range-extending micro-turbine system, which generates electricity to charge the battery pack. The battery then powers the motors that drive the wheels.

Presented in two designs, the mid-engine electric hypercar features two seats and all-wheel drive. Design one: AT96 ‘Aviation Turbine’ is a track-focused model, which uses a turbine set up that runs on a liquid fuel, such as aviation kerosene, diesel or gasoline. Design two: GT96 ‘Gas Turbine’ is designed to run on a gaseous fuel such as biogas and natural gas and is styled as a road-going hypercar.

The hypercar also features plug-in capability, for markets with access to charging networks.

The concept’s exterior features a lightweight carbon-fibre monocoque design and is pwered by six electric traction motors, each weighing 13kg. Front wheels are driven by individual single motors, while the rear wheels are driven by a pair to each corner. Peak combined power is 1030 bhp, while achieving a 0-60mph of 2.5sec and a top speed of 217mph. Total range is projected to be up to 93 miles, with a total range of over 1200 miles from 80 litres of aviation kerosene – or a fuel with the equivalent calorific value – using the TREV range extender.

The powerplant features a micro turbine generator, inspired by technology used in aviation, which drives a generator and charges the battery. Unlike many previously developed turbine powertrain systems, there is no direct electrical feed from the generator to the electric motors: the TREV system is purely a series hybrid range extender system. Using the system, the battery pack can be charged in 40 minutes.

Techrules chief technology officer Matthew Jin said: “Because turbines have always been a very inefficient way to convert chemical energy into useful wheel turning mechanical energy, only a few have tried to use a turbine in the powertrain system, and none have ever succeeded commercially.

“But, with electric vehicles, an electric motor is used to drive the wheels, which effectively frees the combustion engine to exclusively convert chemical energy into mechanical energy and finally into electric energy. This is a major breakthrough, making it possible for us to use the highly efficient turbine engine as a superb range extender on our vehicles.”

The Beijing company claims the TREV system is a sealed-for-life powertrain solution, which requires almost zero maintenance throughout the ownership cycle, with the only service item being the air intake filter.

A TREV-powered supercar is planned for production and will be sold in low numbers, within the next few years.

Danni Bagnall 

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