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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Turbine Engine: No Pistons, No Lube, 30% Better Fuel Economy

There are more than 5,000,000 heavy duty trucks running up and down US highways each day. Every one of those trucks gets an average of 7 mpg, carries upwards of 200-300 gallons of diesel, and spews out potentially harmful emissions.

Like it or not, we depend on them to bring us our food, fuel, and products for everyday living. It’s a connection that most of us often forget about, only remembering it long enough to curse them as they slow us down on the highway.

It’s also an industry that has recently been hit hard by soaring fuel prices, and now, with the average price of diesel in the US at $4.70/gallon and climbing, it’s sure to get worse.

Needless to say, there’s a rising cacophony of voices within the trucking industry clamoring for relief. Most of this noise currently comes in the form of wanting a break in fuel prices, but really that’s just a temporary fix. Any solution with sticking power would have to offer both economic and environmental benefit — you know, win-win.

Enter Turbine Truck Engines. The company has developed an engine for heavy duty trucks called the Detonation Cycle Gas Turbine (DCGT). Key features of this engine technology include:

  • Uses over 30% less fuel than current heavy duty engines
  • 30%+ fewer emissions including nitrogen oxide (NO, NO2, N2O2) and carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Operates on all fuels and mixtures of fuels: biofuels, hydrocarbon fuels, hydrogen and synthetic
  • Has few moving parts, requiring much less maintenance
  • Has no pistons or valves, and uses no lube oil, filters or pump
  • Is air cooled and lightweight (less than 2 lbs. per hp)

The company has been aggressively seeking investors recently and last year won the prestigious Frost and Sullivan Award for Technology Innovation.

Currently Turbine Truck Engines holds several patents and has a few prototypes under its belt. When (and if) their technology finally reaches the market, the combined savings on maintenance and fuel, as well as environmental benefits, could make this engine extremely popular with truck drivers and trucking companies worldwide.

What do you think? Is it worthwhile to invest in this type of technology, or should we move past fuel altogether and focus on other things such as our rail infrastructure for movement of goods? Is that even possible? Are big rigs a permanent feature of our society? Is there any way to run them entirely on electricity?

Original here

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