Buried in last month’s news and product launches was this rather clever bit of British engineering, which could mean the end of range anxiety for electric vehicles. The MiTRE (aka Micro Turbine Range Extender) is a tiny form factor motor and generator which can charge up an EV battery as the car is moving. No more worrying about flat batteries!
The MiTRE is around 40% smaller and 50% lighter than an equivalent piston engine device, and can be used both to help extend the range of an electric car, and also enable manufacturers to make EVs with smaller batteries in them. You can get a better feel for the small size of the unit from the video we took which is below.
The unit was launched embedded inside a custom made vehicle, although it was not shown running. The unit can generate power from petrol, diesel or eventually biofuel, although the company is still working on perfecting the latter two fuels. The key thing about the turbine is the fact that it can keep a battery topped up while a car is cruising at 70 mph on a highway, which is perfect for those longer trips. Of course the total range will depend on the size of your fuel tank!
The company was coy about eventual pricing, although a figure of around £1000 per unit at volumes of around 1000 units were mentioned. This means that in larger volumes it could even become attractive for the after market, with retro kits being sold to existing EV owners. The hybrid market could be about to get very interesting indeed.
So, we burn fuel to charge batteries to run the car down the road on an electric vehicle, which we drive because we don’t want to burn fuel in a clean ICE to drive the car down the road.
Uh-huh. Sounds sane to me!
Someone should explain the efficiency losses in charging a battery, in draining a battery, and in an electric motor to these people. And we don’t use gas turbines in vehicles for the specific reason that they are horribly inefficient to start with.
I suppose if you don’t run it except on long trips it’s probably more efficient than dragging a generator trailer behind.