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Turbine cars

back in the 60’s,i had the chance to ride &drive was in the indy 500.what happened to them?were thay efficent?did thay pollute a lot?thanks,tom

No and yes, respectively.

i will be watching for your artical in the paper

Gee, was I a little too taciturn in my previous reply? ;-}

The prototypes had major driveability problems (the turbines aren’t happy changing speeds as needed in urban driving), used a LOT of fuel, and spewed a lot of emissions.

They were regulated out of Indy.

Chrysler produced a prototype in the '60s. They basically were unable to solve two problems. The first was that turbines have to wind up to get any power, and they have to stay wound. That works great for airplanes, 'cause there’s not stop lights in midair, but it’s a problem for cars. The second problem was that at the time they had no ceramics capable of withstanding the heat that didn’t have stratospheric costs.

Personally, I’d like to see them experimented with again. Turbines are far more efficient than internal combustion engines as long as they can stay wound up. That’s why they’ve long been the choice of airplanes. Fuel efficiency. With today’s transmission technology and today’s ceramics and manufacturing technologies it seems like turbines may now be a viable option. Besides, turbines to day are far smaller, more powerful, quieter, and more efficient than they were in the '60s.

If in the Motor city, can see one at Henery Ford musuem. Amazing place.

In practice, a turbine drive street car would have to use an electric drive to allow the turbine to run at reasonably high efficiency (they are not very efficient off-peak). Also, the high combustion temperatures required for decent efficiency result in fairly high NOX. While possible, I have doubts that they would be cost effective.

Agree; turbines work well at high load ratings and Boeing worked with several truck manufacturers to test turbines in HD trucks. The fuel mileage did not match the diesels and getiing up to speed was a problem.

Chrysler made 50 turbine cars in the 50s and had selected owners drive them. They dropped the project after the tests. Fuel economy was dreadful because a turbine runs a lot of excess air whose heat content is wasted; Chrysler had some kind of heat recovery sytem to preheat the incoming air but is was not effective enough. Besides, the exotic matrials in the turbine meant very expensive engines compared to cast iron piston units.

All in all an internal combution engine in a car runs at part load 99% of the time, and a turbine needs to run at 85% to full load most of the time.

Maybe a tiny turbine (20hp) with exhaust regeneration can run a hybrid, generating power to charge its batteries, some day.

Tanks (war vehicles) have turbines and their ground speed is inconstant. Efficient? Don’t know. Terrible? You betcha!

Excellent point Kit. In tanks they work well because they’re oblivious to the quality of the fuel, they run on whatever is available (great when invading a country where the fuel supply is unpredictable), and they can be made relatively quiet…a real plus when you’re sneaking up on people. But they’re not efficient in that application.

Rover of England produced the first experimental turbine-engine cars, followed by the better-known Chrysler project of the '50s and '60s which culminated with 50 special turbine-powered coupes built by Ghia of Italy.

The main problem at the time was the poor fuel mileage, which ran into high costs despite the engine’s ability to burn any flammable liquid. And, in retrospect, the HUGE amount of CO2 produced by the engines would certainly be considered problematic today, even if it wasn’t considered to be a big negative factor in the '60s.

I believe the turbine in a Chrysler built tank is 1500 HP and can run on virtually any fuel. That’s a great bonus. It can also be chnaged out in 1.5 hours a significant advantage under battle field conditions. The military demands high “maintainability” in all its vehicles, and changing out a heavy diesel takes a long time.

Warships (fast ones) now often have gas turbine propulsion, for the same reasons. Fuel efficiency in the military takes a back seat to repairability and fuel flexibility anytime.

I will be also. What is an artical?

The turbine-powered LeBarons that Chrysler let people drive actually did okay on the highway, from what I remember. I think they could get about 20mpg (on anything thing from Kerosene to Jet Fuel), which was about what a regular mid-70’s LeBaron got. They also gave instant heat, which was popular with the people in colder climates. Poor city performance and 1000+ degree exhaust were the main reasons, along with cost, for scrapping them.

I read a thing a while back about a guy in California who supposedly is making super-high mileage turbine-electric hybrids where they just turn the engine on for a few seconds to generate a full charge. They’re all the rage with celebrities, supposedly. It seems a little fishy to me, but I guess it could be plausable:

It seems like turbine-electric would be more suited for rail locomotives than for hybrid passenger cars. I know that there were some produced in the 50s and 60s, but did not work out as well as their proponents would like.

The guy who started Compaq computers has built a Saturn using a small turbine engine with an alternator wrapped around it, the whole thing about the size of a coffee can that then powers an electric motor that spins up flywheel to about 60,000 rpm for power storage. Then the turbine uses its motor/generator to provide power to an electric motor to drive the wheels.

It gets 100 mpg but it looked a little sluggish to me. I’d be concerned about heavy flywheel spinning at 60k getting loose too.

MB, tell me how you sneak up on people with a tank.

Those 50 Chrysler turbine cars, which were produced circa 1964, were a custom design and were not Chrysler LeBarons.

I used to ride in the bottom of a test ship with turbines in a little laboratory. The turbines were small, only about 20 feet for 25,000HP. It did take a really big gear drive to get it down to 85rpm shaft speed. I still remember the counter going click, click, click every 30 seconds for a barrel of oil used.

I recall an article on Jay Leno’s turbine motorcycle. Surplus turbine built quite professionally into the bike (or was the bike built around the turbine- tomayto, tomahto). I specifically recall him mentioning the unusual stares he got when sitting at a traffic light with the turbine whining. Talk about blistering acceleration!