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Capstone C30 Microturbine Integrated Into Electric Ford S-Max as Range Extender

UK-based Langford Performance Engineering has integrated a 30 kW Capstone C30 liquid fueled microturbine as a range extender into a series plug-in hybrid version of a Ford S-Max people carrier—a seven-seat crossover vehicle—in the United Kingdom.

The Whisper Eco-Logic microturbine extended range electric vehicle. Click to enlarge.

In early demonstration testing the car is getting up to 80 miles per gallon and travels 40 miles on electric power before the Capstone turbine generator starts up and charges the lithium ion batteries.

—Dick Langford, Langford’s Founder and Managing Director

Langford Engineering will be marketing and demonstrating the plug in hybrid vehicle in hopes of further developing this concept with a suitable automotive partner who could commercialize the product for US use and capitalize on a portion of the Obama administration’s $2.4 billion outlined in the stimulus fund to get more electric vehicles on US roads.


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Capstone has made a video with more info

They do not hint anything about the price for a C30 turbine. I could imagine that the C30 turbine still has plenty of opportunity for further development since they are only selling a few of these per year so it probably has a very low development budget. If a big car company took this up they could probably do much to increase performance and decrease production cost of such a turbine. At least this car proves that the concept is doable. They say in the video that the c30 system is half the weight of the engine it replaces. It is also burning most fuels and has very low emissions.


Hard to beat turbine power to weight, but the cost and emissions come to mind. With that power, you could light it up and charge in a few minutes. This is really something, thanks for the link Henrik.


Talk about your complete absence of specs!

Turbines are usually no more energy efficient than a Diesel reciprocating engines (around 40%), so is this C30's weight being compared to a 30kw Diesel, probably not! (without ANY specs, who the hell would know)

Another reason turbines are a questionable choice is they are only efficient at incredibly high rpm. To run a generator off a turbine has usually meant putting a step down gear box between the two and there are always significant losses through any gearbox (10-20%).

Unless these guys are using a direct drive high rpm BLDC alternator, a turbine driving a gearbox will be less energy efficient than using a small diesel to direct drive an alternator at lower rpm.


From their WebSite:

Derived through advanced engineering based on proven turbine design, our MicroTurbines are the preeminent energy management solution. Features including maintenance-free air bearings, the lowest emissions of any non-catalyzed fossil fuel combustion, and digital power conversion combine to produce the optimal small-scale generator.

In one of their White Papers they describe an application with 30KW power and 45KW heat - that means <40%.

Roger Pham

As a range extender, peak efficiency is not as important as low-weight, small size, low vibration, and simplicity, minimum warm-up time, no oil change, and no emission control issues. Diesel is more efficient, but may require expensive emission control for urban use, which makes it impractical in small size and occasional use, where air quality is of paramount importance.

In rural areas, diesel is unbeatable efficiency wise, whereas 2-stroke gasoline engine is unbeatable when comes to power-weight ratio and cost.

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There is another option for range extenders in an EV that has low weight and low noise. That option is to use a lithium sulfur battery such as the battery made by Sion Power Corporation that has 350 Wh/kg. Litium sulfur batteries also have low cycle life (possibly only 200 cycles for 20% degradation) but that is not important for a range extender that only is used occasionally for long trips. Notice that you can store 70kWh in a 200 kg /400 pound battery from Sion. This is plenty for 200 miles of EV range. On top you add the 50 miles range from a 18kWh high power battery (and fast charge) with long cycle life like the batteries from A123 that can do 5000 cycles for 20% degradation.

Anyway my point is that maybe the future of EVs will be one that combines different battery types to achieve the best of both worlds which is long (battery system) life and long vehicle range delivered at a reasonable price. Also make the batteries swappable so that they can be changed at low cost to optimize for multiple driving cycle habits. E.g. some may have longer commuter distances than others and will therefore need a bigger high-power battery versus the energy dense battery. Some get a new job and therefore new commuter habits and will therefore also need to reconfigure their battery system. This is doable.


You could have the fast charge of one type and the higher capacity of another. If you want to quick charge, you could charge the first bank and if you wanted a full charge you do both. This could satisfy some requirements.


The complete absence of specs is a clue.

Turbines are expensive even without Recuperators.
Without Recuperators they are not efficient.

That's why there few, if any turbine powered cars, light planes, small boats etc.

While ICEs benefit a little from fixed speed operation, turbines almost require it.

Operation at rated speed increases their efficiency from abysmal to poor.


I think Capstone wants to get the volume of C30 microturbines produced up so that they can get the costs down. They sell some for UPS systems in buildings, but if they got the costs down, they make more profit.

doug gibson

I have watched the Capstone stock/company for 3 years....many up and downs and this seems to be the most encouraging announcement. As with the above comments, capital or a strong M & A is what is needed.

If this concept really has strong implications and merit, the potential is out of sight......just think of the recreation vechile industry ___I have an 29' Ford E350 Class C RV that get 8 to 10 miles per gal. As much as we would liked to drive across county in it again this year, we will be using our Camry Hybrid that gets 33 to 35 mpg.

I would like to make some money on the stock, I would like to see less US dependency on foreign oil and wouldn't it be great if two small companies and the one large auto company that might survive this recession make this happen!! BEAUTIFUL --- GOOD LUCK TO THE POWERS TO BE.

Henry Gibson

It is interesting to find the Capstone turbine in a car. It has about the same rating that the TZERO range extender had. It is, as mentioned, only useful in a hybrid configuration. Many have been used in hybrid buses. The mechanical simplicity is astounding with only one major moving part and no lubricating oil. The turbine can run continuously for over a year, but the price cannot compete with engines that have a hundred years of development and foreign manufacturers. The efficiency can be more than that of the standard internal combustion car engine, but it is low compared to a constantly operated diesel. Part load operation is not necessary in a large battery car but has lower efficiency. The exhaust of some versions is cleaner than the input air but with a slight increase of CO2. Turbines have about 80 percent of the oxygen remaining in the exhaust air and this can be sent directly to green house plants for heat and growth. Eventually the airbearing turbine should be the engine of choice for busses and delivery trucks and for UPS systems. They will eventually pay for themselves in cogeneration systems and should be required for all large buildings, especially those built by governments that require renewable energy. Cogeneration is almost the only cost effective way to reduce CO2 and save on fossil fuels. ..HG..

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