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Capstone Launches CARB-Certified Microturbine Range Extender for Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Capstone’s HEV drive system. Source: Capstone. Click to enlarge.

Capstone Turbine Corporation, a leading manufacturer of microturbine energy systems, has released configurations of the C30 (30 kW) liquid fuel microturbine that meet extremely low global emission standards including California Air Resources Board (CARB) requirements for New On-Road Heavy-Duty Engines for Urban Bus - Hybrid service with no aftertreatment.

Test emissions from the C30 Liquid Fuel microturbine measured significantly less than the emissions levels set forth by the CARB standard including NOx at 80% and CO at 99% less than the required levels, Capstone said.

The Capstone C30 Liquid Fuel microturbine is the only engine certified to the CARB emissions levels that went into effect for Model Year 2010 On-Road Heavy-Duty Diesel Engines to operate on diesel fuel with no exhaust aftertreatment, including urea injection or exhaust catalyst.

Emissions were achieved using the next generation of Capstone’s lean premix combustion technology. The result of no after treatment equipment allows Capstone to achieve these emission levels without impact to product efficiency, additional cost or increased vehicle weight.

The Capstone C30 Liquid Fuel microturbine is the only diesel-fueled range extender that has been certified to the CARB Urban Bus and Urban Bus Hybrid standard for operation on diesel fuel, according to the company. Capstone recently completed third party testing and validation of its compressed natural gas (CNG) product and anticipates filing for CARB certification in the coming weeks.

Having the only 2010 CARB-certified range extender for heavy duty transit that does not require exhaust after treatment allows DesignLine to offer a product that meets market requirements and assists transit properties in lowering fleet emissions without incurring the additional cost of changing their existing fueling infrastructure or maintaining costly exhaust after treatment systems.

—Brad Glosson, President and Chief Executive Officer of DesignLine Corporation

A complete Capstone HEV drive system includes the C30 microturbine generator; microturbine inverter; drive motor and gear reduction; motor drive inverter; and power control module. The water-cooled microturbine inverter replaces the ECM and BCM, for an 88% reduction in size and weight.

Capstone Turbine has shipped more than 5,000 Capstone MicroTurbine systems to customers worldwide.




If you have to ask . . .?

Multi-Modal Commuter Dude (formerly known as Bike Commuter Dude)

Henry G. is going to flip out...


Cost is totally dependent on volumes, even more so than traditional ICE engines.
If you are looking for low volumes (<25) then it will cost you about $20k. If you are a high volume manufacturer who will commit to tens of thousands or more over multiple years, they will go below $3k.

It's new stuff with absolutely zero volume production so it will be coming down tremendously if they can find some volumes.

Also, you have to remember that their initial units were WAY over spec'd. They were targeted at 24x7 x 365 days x 5 years! These were for things like hospitals who would use them for emergency backup for life support systems, etc.

A vehicle does not need to keep people on live support alive so those specs are way too high.


How big is this thing and what does it weigh? Fairly important specs for a vehicle.


I haven't seen the size and weight specs on the new one but the old one had a simply ridiculous inverter. It was MORE than twice the size of any briefcase I've ever seen and weighed more than the bloody turbine itself. made more noise too!


If this turbine + gear box + generator + controls could be downsized three more times it could become another alternative genset for many PHEVs at least until such times as improved (3x to 5x) much lower cost (1/3 to 1/5) batteries are available by 2020-2030?

Will S

25% efficiency (+/- 2%) and 1000 lbs make it less than desirable;

Perhaps the mobile version is a little lighter.


Depending on what you are trying to achieve, this would be an appropriate size for a car. This one is only 30KW, the Chevy Volt is 50KW. A smaller range extender would be more of a recharge source than a driveable power source.



Turbine engines lose much of their efficiency when miniaturized. We're not likely to see anything small enough for a passenger car, even if they could reduce costs enough.


What about if a cyclone engine is inserted after the turbine to make use of the hot gases:


@Will S,
I've got the specs somewhere at home. The old mobile version was somewhere around 100-120kg if you included the inverter. I'll see if I can find the numbers again.

Of course, it wasn't really sold as a "mobile vehicle application" that is just what it weighed when you took all the parts out that were needed for a vehicle and threw away the standalone frame and everything else.

Herm Perez

"What about if a cyclone engine is inserted after the turbine to make use of the hot gases"

How about just forget about the turbine and just use the Cyclone directly.. lots of torque, no transmission needed.


This could happen, possibly, if you abandoned all efforts at maintaining efficiency to cut costs.

Pollution, except for CO2, can be kept low even if efficiency is also low.

If the range extender is only occasionally used, fuel efficiency (kw/gal) is of much less consequence.

But to make it weight less than, and cost as little as, a small efficient ICE, it would be low efficiency, junk - like a centrifugal compressor, radial inflow, "turbocharger" engine.

I do not think the Capstone engine is going this way – therefore it will be BIG BUCK$.

Volume has only a limited effect on the cost of a quality, turbine engine.


The core of the Capstone isn't much bigger than a turbocharger (it more or less is a turbocharger), so the inherent size and weight aren't much. You're probably talking a unit a couple of times the size of a printer/scanner (I've seen the predecessors).

The benefits are small size, low NVH and no need for a cooling system (even the bearings use air, not oil). The downside is low efficiency, but compared to an ICE which is throttled all the time it won't come out badly in comparison. The one thing I wonder about is why burn diesel fuel; I can't think of any overlap between vehicles which burn diesel and vehicles which can get by on 30 kW of power, even average.


Actually jet fuel is very similar to diesel fuel, and in some cases, may be burned in diesel engines so maybe the opposite is also true? The Capstone will be put into cars so they have to use something very similar to jet fuel that the average joe can buy at the corner gas station.


Anybody heard if there's any progress on Free-piston gensets?

The low internal resistance because of purely linear drive motion seemed to have great theoretical efficiency for a genset, and probably very low cost and weight...but controlling combustion was a challenge.


"New On-Road Heavy-Duty Engines for Urban Bus - Hybrid"

There were some bus trials that used Capstone units as range extenders. Maybe this would be good for the FedEx and UPS trucks or the F450 kinds of shuttle buses.

There are lot so ways we can reduce fuel consumption and still provide the services that we need. After 100 years of oil and ICE we are just now starting to explore those options.

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