Why Turbines Not used In Automobile Cars Nowadays ?

Why Turbines Not used In Automobile Cars Nowadays ?

There have been turbine powered cars. Mostly show cars in the 50’s and 60’s.Turbine engines have been used earlier by Chrysler. The Chrysler Turbine Car is an automobile powered by a turbine engine which was produced by Chrysler from 1962 to 1964. Its body was made by the Italian design studio Ghia, and Chrysler completed its assembly in Detroit. 

Why Turbines Not used In Automobile Cars Nowadays
Chrysler Turbine Engine

Some Reasons why turbines are not used in Automobile Cars. 

  • As you can see, turbines take up a lot of space.
  • And they are very expensive to manufacture and maintain. An internal combustion engine is practically maintenance free by comparison. Electric motors are maintenance free, for all practical purposes.
  • No engine braking at all. Granatelli’s car had an air brake to make up for that, but that’s a solution designed for very high speeds and long runoff areas.
  • Exhaust Gas  Temperature is more and exhaust gas has high velocity which can throw  to any body which behind the car.
  • You need mechanical power output (like a helicopter; it’s not practical for a car to just stream hot exhaust out the back like a jet). You need great part-throttle efficiency (since you spend so much time cruising along at maybe 20% of peak power), and the ability to produce tens-to hundreds of horsepower (rather than hundreds-to-thousands). You need a wide speed band (or a very expensive transmission). You need it to be able to start and stop with a minimum of fuss (no multi-minute warm-up and cool-down cycles during which you can’t make usable power), and you need to be cheap. Turbines satisfy basically none of these.
  • The principle issue is efficiency. In short, small turbines are not efficient. This is mostly due to tip leakage around the compressor and turbine blades. It turns out to be easier to make relatively smaller tip gaps on large engines. And while some techniques used by the most efficient large engines might be scaled down (like active clearance control), that gets very expensive in a small engine, and still leaves you with a fairly inefficient engine.

    In small sizes conventional gasoline or diesel engines have it all over gas turbines for efficiency.

  • Turbines are much lighter and therefore would not require a heavy chassis. Weight reduction is one main key to fuel efficiency. The Chrysler was a stock car (fairly heavy) and didn’t take advantage of the turbines low weight.
  • Their idle and low-load fuel efficiency is appalling. Most car engines spend the majority of their lives far from peak power output, so turbines’ high efficiency at high load wouldn’t really help them here.
  • The obvious issues that Chrysler had back then are still issues with turbine power today. They don’t perform well in cold weather for a quick start up and drive away like most people are used to. Power response isn’t instant because they have to spin up much farther to produce power than a gasoline/diesel engine which will provide power instantly.

Sachin Thorat

Sachin is a B-TECH graduate in Mechanical Engineering from a reputed Engineering college. Currently, he is working in the sheet metal industry as a designer. Additionally, he has interested in Product Design, Animation, and Project design. He also likes to write articles related to the mechanical engineering field and tries to motivate other mechanical engineering students by his innovative project ideas, design, models and videos.

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