Cosworth, the U.K. company that has produced both race and sports cars, engines, and a myriad of racing components has come up with what it calls a catalytic generator, or “Cat Gen.” Any system using batteries, motors, and energy sources to propel it can use it. The Cat Gen extends the range to make electric drive motors even more efficient. And it does this at a steady 35 kW.
Compromises inherent in gas-powered and electric systems can be improved according to Cosworth. The turbine generator is small, extremely low emission, lightweight, simple, and uses existing components and materials. So it is a solution that exists right now.
How does the Cat Gen interface with the engine and batteries?
The faster you go, the more drag occurs. So the Cat Gen extends the amount of energy used for both the electricity and gas-powered propulsion in hybrid technology no matter how fast you’re running. As EVs improve, this will become less of an issue. But EV technology still has a way to go once you factor in the added battery weight, infrastructure, and added costs to purchase them.
It is not directly feeding power to the drive motor because it only produces electricity for the batteries. This works especially well for short-trip and trucks with port destinations. That’s because it takes over to eliminate stop/start, low speeds, and long periods of idling.
If it uses the same fuel as the engine how can it be cleaner?
How it works is that a chemical reaction of both air and fuel still happens, just like with a gasoline engine, but at much lower temperatures. More emissions are produced the higher the temperature at combustion of the air/fuel mixture. By electrically heating the area where combustion occurs, the vehicle can produce a quick startup, even in cold weather.
Because the unit is so small, the components needed to create it are relatively inexpensive. And there is no cleanup for the exhaust, so there is less weight from catalytic converters and air pumps. And the batteries needed for an EV system are smaller because the Cat Gen is supplying steady electrical flow to them. So they don’t need to store as much energy.
Does the Cat Gen only work for electric vehicles?
For hydrogen applications, the hydrogen reacts to the air in the turbine, producing electricity without any emissions. And the quality of the hydrogen doesn’t need to be at the level of typical hydrogen applications, which adds considerably to the cost of processing it.
Besides EVs and trucks, boats and planes can also benefit from turbine technology. Battery-powered flight doesn’t work with large airframes. So this decreases the size of electrical motors and batteries to make that technology more viable. Any fuel in a liquid or gas state can be used, so the lack of a certain fuel won’t affect travel.