Micro gas-turbine program joins U.K.'s powertrain technology thrust

  • 03-Mar-2010 05:58 EST
Bladon Jet front+pencil.jpg

Micro engineering: Bladon Jets' axial-flow gas-turbine engine scaled against a regular size pencil.

Development of a micro gas turbine for range-extended EVs is the latest project to gain funding from the U.K. government's Technology Strategy Board. The TSB aims to accelerate deployment of alternative powertrain solutions, including fuel cell and hydrogen technologies. 

The TSB is supporting a consortium led by Bladon Jets, a specialist in micro gas-turbine technology, to develop an ultra-lightweight range extender (ULRE) for next-generation electric vehicles. The consortium also includes Jaguar Land Rover.

The program's goal is to produce the world’s first commercially viable, low-emissions gas-turbine-powered generator system designed specifically for automotive applications.

Backing for the project was secured within a $23 million funding competition organized by the TSB to support the advancement of the mass adoption of low-carbon-emitting vehicles—part of TSB's wider program to stimulate technology-enabled innovation. Range-extender technologies for EVs are expected to play a prominent role in the carbon-reduction strategy. 

A Bladon Jets’ patented, axial-flow gas-turbine engine will be incorporated in the ULRE. It will be coupled to a high-speed generator, which will use proprietary switched reluctance technology from SR Davies, a maker of electrical machines.

Jaguar Land Rover will oversee design of the ULRE’s packaging for vehicle integration.

The TSB will also invest $11 million in 15 demonstrator projects to stimulate fuel cell and hydrogen technologies. This is targeted at filling a gap in the support of both and will help U.K. companies move toward commercialization, according to government officials.

The investment was announced by Lord Hunt, the British Minister of State for Energy, while visiting Johnson Matthey Fuel Cell’s facility west of London.

“Fuel cells and hydrogen can play a key role in cutting CO2 emissions and reducing reliance on fossil fuels," Hunt said. "Through this boost for hydrogen, innovative businesses like Johnson Matthey are well placed to benefit from the move to low carbon.”

TSB Chief Executive Ian Gray said that the provision of capital funding toward the cost of demonstration would enable companies to collaborate to commercialize fuel cell and hydrogen technologies. The TSB regards the technologies as offering suitable power sources alongside electric vehicles.

The TSB is a business-led, executive nondepartmental body established by the British government. It is sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills.

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