CMT-380 Hybrid Concept Comes Complete With Jet Turbine

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Capstone Turbine CMT-380 concept car

Capstone Turbine CMT-380 concept car

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Small companies developing electric supercars with Ferrari-rivalling performance may seem fairly common these days, and the latest entrant into this niche market segment--Capstone Turbine--seems determined to follow in the footsteps of other fledgling electric car start-ups.

Capstone Turbine is pushing traditional hybrid and electric vehicle barriers with the introduction of the CMT-380, a high-performance, hybrid supercar powered by lithium-polymer batteries and an ultra-low emission, range-extending microturbine engine.

Yes, you read correctly. The CMT-380 features an ultra-clean and quiet jet engine under the hood of the borrowed Factory Five Racing GTM body.

With this unique powertrain combination on board, the CMT-380 is claimed to be capable of travelling from 0-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds, reach a top speed of 150 mph and drive more than 500 miles on a single tank of fuel.

The microturbine engine develops about 40 horsepower and runs on diesel or biodiesel. The set-up features an electric generator and turbine components mounted on a single shaft that are supported by air bearings--so there are no liquids to lubricate or cool the microturbine. It is so clean that it doesn’t require any exhaust after treatment to meet stringent clean air requirements of the California Air Resources Board or EPA 2010.

While driving, the car can operate on 100% battery power in zero-emissions mode for a range of up to 80 miles. When the batteries reach a pre-determined state of discharge, the microturbine quietly fires up and recharges the batteries on the fly to extend the driving range up to 500 miles--similar to the set-up used by the upcoming Chevrolet Volt and most other range-extended plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Electronic Arts Chief Creative Director Richard Hilleman, creator of popular video games, developed the concept for the high-performance hybrid-electric microturbine vehicle with support from Capstone Turbine, the world's leading clean technology manufacturer of microturbine energy systems.

The project is still in the concept phase and will be fully on display at this week’s 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show.

[Capstone Turbine]

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Comments (8)

  2. I sure hope so i have been buying there stock for the past 8 months PLEASE GET HUGE PLEASE!!!!!

  3. A brilliant idea. Most series hybrid ideas have clung to the internal combustion engine as their energy source, but really, in a constant load situation a turbine is much more efficient.

  4. Two concerns. First, I'm curious if the rotational inertia of the microturbine has a negative effect on handling, specifically turning, due to the gyroscopic effect of the high-rpm microturbine.
    Second, are there safety issues with the amount of rotational energy of the turbine? As in, if the microturbine was in a wreck, is it better or worse than a 4,6,8-cylinder ICE?
    Apart from the above two concerns, I like the idea of 30% efficient, any-fuel microturbine range extenders as a stepping-stone technology to get us away from turbochargers that are only 18-20% efficient. Eventually, combustion has to go, though.

  5. Cool as heck! I love the idea of this. Too bad they couldn't design their own body for it. I've never been a fan of the FF GTM design, not because it looks bad per se, but it's very "generic supercar". It has a lot of Ford GT in it, but not enough to be a GT replica.
    In response to Omega 3, I don't think the gyroscopic effect of the Turbine would be enough to affect handling, as I imagine they are utilizing a very small turbine, since it only has to re-charge the batteries and doesn't need to drive the wheels. Does anybody know what type of turbine they are using and where they are sourcing it from? I'm thinking along the lines of an R/C aircraft turbine, since those have been around for a while in the extreme high-end model aircraft market.

  6. Actually, this turbine is technology that Capstone has developed and built, not 'borrowed' from another source (i.e. high-end R/C) market. It's useful for stationary and mobile applications. They sold a batch of these turbines to a company some time ago to make electric hybrid buses for use in Italy. I've been waiting to see these in cars. The amazing thing to me is that they use the air bearing (no ball bearings whatsoever) and they put the generator on the same shaft. This approach will at least be a good intermediate step until hydrogen fuel cell cars hit the road (coming in 2012 courtesy of Toyota).

  7. So a turbine is not an internal combustion engine? Always though things like steam engines where external combustion engines?
    Neat idea though, wanted to try this myself but using a motorcycle as space is at a premium on a bike.

  8. I saw this amazing car at Maker Faire. I thought it was amazingly cool and green, a rare combination in the automotive world today (short of Tesla Motors perhaps.)
    However, when I talked to Richard Hilleman (and his fabulously nice wife) he said "...built in my garage...I've nothing more than a high school degree...I'm not an engineer...if I can do this anyone can." Being at Maker Faire this would make sense because it's filled with hands-on makers, e.g. actual people who actual build things with their own actual hands.
    Now I find out he's a "big cheese" at Electronic Arts which surely equates to "he doesn't worry about where his dinner's coming from nor how expensive these exotic car parts cost." I also now have an appreciation that his extreme exageration of having made it all himself is much closer to "developed the concept" mentioned in the story. Heck, I can do that! Just give me the $$$ to get my visions converted into reality by some other expert hands. Maybe these are the "harmless" little white lies we were told about as kids? I'm disappointed by his posturing but still love the car and the top-notch professional execution.
    Please send the "real" hands-on makers of the CMT-380 to next year's Maker Faire. You can still be there (the "concept" is terrific, kudos to you...and for funding the execution), but I've love to talk to the "doers" too.

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