Turbine engines features including their ability to cram piles of power into smaller lightweight packages have made them quite ideal in Jets. What if these engines could be used to power cars? Well, it has already been tried without much success. Chrysler was the first to try them out, followed by Lotus in a racecar, but both concluded that the engines were not appropriate. Currently, Wright, a founder of Tesla Motors who launched Wrightspeed after departing Tesla has designed Garbage trucks powered by the same Turbine engine. His design seems to have numerous advantages over convention garbage trucks.
Garbage trucks make rounds around cities belching diesel exhaust, making them a polluter within our cities. Wright has designed an electric drivetrain that runs on battery, but once it runs low, a turbine spins up, burning fuel to generate needed electricity. Wright notes that this setup is far better than the current straight-six engine and heavy gearbox.
Wrightspeed track will not win any drag race, but the innovation behind them could reduce fuel consumption by up to 70%. The electric motors provide 400 horsepower, which is sufficient to trundle up a 40% grade. The engine double as generators capturing energy as the track slows down. An overnight charge of the engine provides 20 miles of travel before the turbine kicks in.
The engines weigh 250 pounds, approximately one-tenth the weight of a conventional engine of the same power. Since the track runs on electricity, you will not have to worry about noise. Even when the turbine is running, it is far quieter than diesel trucks.
An interesting factor about turbine engines is that they can run on almost any flammable liquid. Chrysler claimed that its vehicle could run on everything including perfume. Wrightspeed plans only to use natural gas and diesel.They high temperature combustion means that nearly everything will be burned. Wrights notes that the exhaust is incredibly clean and can meet California emissions without any after-treatment.
FedEX has already ordered 25 trucks. Wrightspeed did not reveal pricing, but it is estimated at around $200,000.
Featured Image Credit: Wired