|The CMT-380. Click to enlarge.|
Capstone Turbine Corporation is introducing a prototype range-extended electric supercar using one of its 30 kW C30 microturbines as the generator unit. The CMT-380, currently in the design and test phase, is being developed in partnership with Electronic Arts Chief Creative Director Richard Hilleman.
The CMT-380 features a lithium-polymer battery pack that supports an all-electric range of up to 80 miles. When the batteries reach a predetermined state of discharge, the Capstone C30 microturbine fires up and recharges the batteries on the fly to extend the driving range up to 500 miles.
The prototype hybrid electric supercar with microturbine technology, based on a Factory Five Racing GTM body, will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 150 mph. The CMT-380 will debut at the LA Auto Show 2-13 December.
The concept for the high-performance hybrid electric microturbine vehicle was developed by Electronic Arts Chief Creative Director Richard Hilleman, creator of popular video games, with support from Capstone Turbine.
Capstone’s CMT-380 is just now finishing up the conceptual design and first article testing stage. We plan to finalize very soon a limited production plan, in part, based on interest received at the LA Auto Show. We anticipate customers will be a select group of individuals who appreciate its many innovative high-performance and high-technology driving characteristics, long driving range and ultra-low emissions.—Darren Jamison, Capstone President and CEO
Capstone’s 30 kW microturbines have been installed in hybrid electric buses, trolleys and transit shuttles around the world. The C-30 microturbine in the CMT-380 features an electric generator and turbine components mounted on a single shaft, which is supported by air bearings. No oil or other lubricants are needed, so maintenance is extremely low and the need to dispose of hazardous materials is eliminated.
A patented combustion system achieves extremely low exhaust emissions that do not require expensive exhaust after treatment to meet stringent California Air Resources Board and EPA 2010 requirements. A patented recuperator (air-to-air heat exchanger) extracts energy from the exhaust stream and recycles it to preheat air coming into the combustion chamber, thus increasing efficiency.
Earlier this year, a C30 liquid-fueled microturbine was successfully integrated into a Ford S-Max people carrier in the United Kingdom by Langford Performance Engineering Ltd. (Earlier post.)
Although it is not in Capstone's business plan to start manufacturing complete cars, the limited production CMT-380 and Langford Whisper hybrid demonstration vehicle are intended to showcase the technology and demonstrate value proposition of microturbines as electric vehicle range extenders. Both Capstone and Langford have been in discussions with automotive industry companies, and these concept and demonstration vehicles help showcase the technology and generate public awareness of the benefits of microturbine technology.—Darren Jamison
(ETVM), an Israeli start-up, is also developing a range-extended electric vehicle (REEV) technology combining a novel dual-power micro-turbine and a new high-voltage lithium-ion battery chemistry. That company closed a US$12-million Series A investment round in April, led by The Quercus Trust of Newport Beach, California. New York-based 21Ventures LLC co-invested. (Earlier post.)
Capstone has shipped more than 5,000 microturbines worldwide which are able to produce energy ranging from 30 kilowatts up to 5 megawatts and are supplying power at sites around the world, including office buildings, hospitals, hotels, universities, oil and gas applications, landfills, waste water treatment plants, farm digesters, industrial manufacturing operations and others.
Capstone microturbines can run on a variety of fuels, including natural gas, waste methane from landfills, biodiesel, diesel, kerosene and propane. Microturbine efficiency increases when used in Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and Combined Cooling Heat and Power (CCHP) applications that utilize waste heat energy produced by the microturbines to recapture and heat water or buildings, or run through an absorption chiller to create air conditioning.
DOE and BIRD Grants. Separately, Capstone announced that it received notice of grant awards from the US Department of Energy (DOE) and from Israel’s Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation to participate in two separate clean energy product development projects valued in excess of $3 million.
Capstone Flexible Fuel Microturbine. The first DOE grant is to develop a more fuel flexible microturbine capable of operating on a wider variety of biofuels—mostly on syngas produced by gasifying from biomass feedstock. The two-year project will total almost $3.8 million, with the DOE supporting the project with $2.5 million which includes the support of Argonne National Laboratory. Capstone is the prime contractor for this project and will rely on support from Argonne National Laboratory, University of California at Irvine, and Packer Engineering, Inc.
The project will focus on both the development of a clean syngas combustion system for the Capstone microturbine and a demonstration phase of this new microturbine using the fuel output of a farm waste gasifier being developed by Packer Engineering under a separate US Department of Agriculture grant.
Argonne will characterize the output of the Packer gasifier for a variety of feed stocks and will host the demonstration phase of the microturbine and gasifier system. The University of California at Irvine and Argonne will assist Capstone in the development and testing of the fuel delivery system for the microturbine. Capstone will provide the design and production expertise for the new fuel delivery system and will manufacture the new syngas microturbine product for sale to the general market. The initial focus is on Capstone’s C65 microturbine with integral heat recovery to achieve high overall efficiency as well as low emissions.
Microturbine Powered Solar Concentrator System. The US DOE and BIRD selected a product development effort by Capstone Turbine and Israel’s HelioFocus Ltd. The award of up to $800,000 is to further the development and commercialize a microturbine to produce electric power from concentrated solar energy.
HelioFocus has previously developed a proprietary solar receiver to convert concentrated solar energy into superheated air. That superheated air will be used to drive a specially-designed externally fired C65 Capstone microturbine to produce efficient solar power. The system will be designed with the option to use natural gas to provide continuous power to supplement the solar energy when it is not available.
Both of these awards are subject to completion and execution of contracts and sub-contracts with the various parties involved in carrying out the product development programs. Failure to complete these agreements could preclude Capstone from participating in one or both awards.