Ariel and Morgan have already signed up to Delta Motorsport's tech; it's claimed to be 50% lighter than a piston engine
Sam Sheehan
23 September 2016

Delta Motorsport has developed a micro-turbine engine that can act as an ultra-efficient range extender for electric vehicles, and it'll make production in a yet to be revealed model before the close of the decade.

Called the mirco turbine range extender (MiTRE), the prototype system comes in two power outputs, 23bhp and 47bhp, and is about 40% smaller and, at 50kg, about 50% lighter than an equivalent piston engine. The more powerful unit also has a thermal efficiency of about 30%, which matches the best piston engines, and both versions have very low emission outputs.

Delta says adding a larger heat exchanger can improve the unit’s thermal efficiency to 35%, which ranks the unit alongside high-performance racing engines.

The first prototype system has been fitted into Delta’s own E4 Coupé electric concept (pictured below), but a final version will be introduced in a production car in 2019.

"We will be entering into a partnership later this year to produce a motor for a production model," confirmed Delta engineering director Nick Carpenter. "I can't say with who, but it'll be produced in 2019 and arrive on roads in 2020."

Currently, only two car makers, Ariel and Morgan, have been confirmed as partners for Delta's technology. Both companies have recently expressed interest in electrification technology, with Morgan producing the EV3 and Ariel demonstrating electrically powered ground-effect tech earlier this week, but Carpenter suggested this first production model would be in a full EV from another car maker.

Carpenter believes turbine engines are the most efficient answer to improving the ranges of EVs. "There have been various attampts to introduce turbine engines into passenger cars, but those engines were directly driving the wheels," he said. "Electric vehicle sales are gaining traction now, but people who travel long distances still need more range, and this is where the range extender still provides the best answer."

Carpenter said adding more batteries to a car to increase its range had its limits due to the weight of battery cells, but a turbine range extender can drastically increase an EV's range for a tiny offset of emissions.

He also believes range extender technology can bring EVs to the masses. "How many people can live with a Nissan Leaf, and how many can afford a Tesla Model S?" Carpenter said. "Once production is up and running, the cost of our motor will be around £1000, so it's not expensive."

To keep costs down, Delta has avoided using exotic materials. "There were many fundamentnal decisions made in the early stages of the programme that have ensured we’re keeping the production costs down," said Carpenter. "About 90% of the cost comes from production, so there's lots of opportunity to bring the price down once production picks up."

Carpenter said production makes up 10% of battery costs, meaning it's the physical materials that make up 90% of costs. It's for this reason he believes range extenders are the cost effective answer for now.

"I think there'll always be a place for range extenders," said Carpenter. "Even if the technology takes off and we have batteries that can offer 150 miles of motorway driving, it still won't be enough for long-distance drivers."

Carpenter believes that the mainstream manufacturers have been slow to take to electric, and makers of fully electric cars, such as Tesla, have limited their market to people who can run EVs. He says that range extenders, however, are the best of both worlds.

The turbine technology has been created in a £3.1 million collaborative research and development project that’s been co-funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and Innovate UK.

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Comments
23

15 September 2016
On the face of it, this sounds like a very good idea. A small turbine range extended would be lighter and less intrusive than a single-cylinder petrol engine normally used. But could it be made cheaply enough and clean enough? I was always led to believe that the more efficient the combustion, the more problematic NOx became. Then again, it may not matter given that the range extender would only be used occasionally - and probably not at all during the official test procedure!

TS7

15 September 2016
...with hydrogrn as the fuel would get round any NOx issue.

LP in Brighton wrote:

On the face of it, this sounds like a very good idea. A small turbine range extended would be lighter and less intrusive than a single-cylinder petrol engine normally used. But could it be made cheaply enough and clean enough? I was always led to believe that the more efficient the combustion, the more problematic NOx became. Then again, it may not matter given that the range extender would only be used occasionally - and probably not at all during the official test procedure!

TS7

15 September 2016
...the lack of an edit function bites me on the ass! That would be hydrogen, not 'hydrogrn'!

15 September 2016
Using hydrogen is all very well, but currently there is no infrastructure - and it would be much easier / quicker to find a source of electricity to charge the battery directly. Also, I'm no chemist but doesn't NOx result from the combination of nitrogen and oxygen in the air, rather than as a consequence of the fuel used? Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of a turbine - but just asked the question.

25 September 2016
LP in Brighton wrote:

Using hydrogen is all very well, but currently there is no infrastructure - and it would be much easier / quicker to find a source of electricity to charge the battery directly. Also, I'm no chemist but doesn't NOx result from the combination of nitrogen and oxygen in the air, rather than as a consequence of the fuel used? Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of a turbine - but just asked the question.

Yes, correct. It will still produce NOx even if hydrogen is used as the fuel.

7 August 2017
Just h20 if using a, fuel cell extender

Add lightness #riversimple

300 miles on 1.5kg H2 at lower bus /truck pressure of 3.5bar

15 September 2016
TS7 wrote:

...with hydrogrn as the fuel would get round any NOx issue.

LP in Brighton wrote:

.....!

With hydrogen as a fuel there'd be no problem with NOx as there'd be no where to fill to up in the first place. As battery range gets further all the time and Petrol producing very few NOx compared to Diesel NOx aren't really a problem, especially as it would hardly be used on a day to day basis

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

7 August 2017
DEFRA 2014, 50% of ALL urban NOx is from PETROL euro 1-3 cars

As the wear rate is much higher (cutting fluid vrs lubricant and twice the rpm) petrol engines exceed equivalent diesel NOx emissions after approximately 50k miles.

More acrid NH3, CO, hydrocarbons, ultrafine pm 2.5, and if course CO2 to boot!

Laughable efficiency for turbines at low levels main reason airliners fly at 35,000 feet!

1191cc pd engine 50% thermodynamic efficiency back on 1998. Most container ship engine exceed 50%.

The green wash continues!

15 September 2016
But increase co2 emissions due to the energy required to extract it.

15 September 2016
typos1 wrote:

But increase co2 emissions due to the energy required to extract it.

Depends on how the electricity is extracted (Norway for instance is almost entitly renewable in the form of Hydroelecticity). Bear in mind to extract 1 kilo of Hydrogen takes 40 kwh of electricity and will propel an IX35 Hydrogen car around 50 miles max, 40 kwh would propel a Leaf about 200 miles. Oh I've left out the transportation energy needed to get the hydrogen to 'stations' if they even existed that is.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

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