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Wrightspeed Unveils Turbine Range Extender For Medium + Heavy-Duty Electric Powertrains

Originally published on EV Obsession.

A new turbine generator/range extender for medium-duty + heavy-duty electric powertrains that’s been dubbed the “Fulcrum” was recently unveiled by developer Wrightspeed.

The new 80 kW proprietary turbine generator is for use with the company’s “Route” family of electric powertrains (class 3 through 6). Some further details: the new design weighs in at about 250 lbs (roughly a tenth the weight of comparative piston generators), is claimed to possess a 10,000-hour lifespan, and is of a radial flow, axial design (with intercooler + recuperator).

image

Green Car Congress provides some more details:

The Route extended range electric powertrains incorporate a range-extending genset designed to recharge the high-power battery pack (currently from A123 Systems) and Wrightspeed’s own geared traction drive (GTD). Wrightspeed, founded by Ian Wright, one of the original co-founders of Tesla Motors, has used a 65 kW Capstone microturbine in earlier Route powertrains. The 65 kW Capstone unit weighs 300 lbs (136.1 kg), for a power-to-weight ratio of 478 W/kg; by comparison, Wrightspeed’s new Fulcrum microturbine offers a power-to-weight ratio of 750 W/kg. With Fulcrum, on which the company has been working for about 3 years, Wrightspeed now owns 100% of the Intellectual Property of its powertrain products.

A two-stage compression process and novel recuperation design make the Fulcrum 30% more efficient than existing turbine generators, while tripling usable power, Wrightspeed says. Its multi-fuel capabilities allow it to burn diesel, CNG, LNG, landfill gases, biodiesel, kerosene, propane, heating oil, and others. In addition, the Fulcrum will make for a smooth, comfortable ride for drivers and a quiet, clean experience for neighborhoods because of its ultra-low vibration.


 

Also worth noting here, is that the Fulcrum turbine generator manages to meet stringent emissions standards (such as those set by the California Air Resources Board) without the need for any add-ons — no catalytic converters are needed to meet these standards as is the case with piston generators.

Here’s an excerpt of some of founder Ian Wright’s recent comments on the Fulcrum:

“The automotive industry is in the midst of a fundamental disruption, with electric vehicles merely symbolizing the beginning of the movement. The Fulcrum, together with our range-extended EV architecture, is perfectly suited for achieving maximum efficiency in extremely high-power stop-and-go applications, such as garbage trucks. For many of the same reasons that aviation changed from piston engines to turbines decades ago, we believe turbines will begin to replace piston engines in range-extended electric vehicle applications.

“It doesn’t matter what the driver is doing, you operate the turbine only at its most efficient point. It’s only 250 lbs, incredibly clean and also multi-fuel. It has all those advantages.”

Image Credit: Wrightspeed

 
 
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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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