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Old 18th October 2010, 16:46   #1
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Default Is Tata looking at Gas Turbine jet engines?

Look at this news item
Tata to acquire stake in Bladon Jets - The IET

As some of you may know, at full power Gas turbine engines give amazing efficiency. But the problem is that gearing a 50,000rpm turbine to drive at low speeds involves very expensive transmission components, which are prone to failure.
Moreover, if you are not operating at peak power, gas turbine engines efficiency is very bad.
Engineers have come up with the ideal solution. Run a high rpm generator to charge an electric battery, and run the vehicle on electricity.

Given Tata's interest and prototype Electric Indica, this could be a new step. Fit a gas turbine, or even a liquid fuel turbine(small sized), use that to charge the battery, and drive the powertrain with electric power.
Efficiency will be as high as 60%-80% as compare to 30-40% of conventional engines.
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Old 18th October 2010, 17:08   #2
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Tata is on a roll in these days. Remember, they bought controlling stake in an Italian design firm last week and that too was a surprise acquisition like this one.

However, the Italian "purchase" was made by Tata motors directly. In this case it is the "parent company of Tata sons" so TML is not in the picture here, (though it is minority stake only). Could that mean the technology developed by Bladon can be used by any Tata subsidiary under a simple license?

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Old 18th October 2010, 17:13   #3
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I can't remember where I first read about it for the life of me but here is an interesting, related article:

Chrysler Turbine Car

The fourth-generation Chrysler turbine engine ran at up to 44,500 Revolutions per minute (rpm), according to the owner's manual, and could use diesel fuel, unleaded gasoline, kerosene, JP-4 jet fuel, and even vegetable oil. The engine would run on virtually anything and the president of Mexico tested this theory by running one of the first cars—successfully—on tequila. Air/fuel adjustments were required to switch from one to another, and the only evidence of what fuel was being used was the odor of the exhaust.
Hopefully, the years of technological advancement will enable manufactures to take it to production cars, not just prototypes.
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Old 18th October 2010, 17:40   #4
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Tata owned Jaguar Motors are already working on an Hybrid using the gas turbine engine.
So the recent move is not surprising. Apparently the turbines used in the hybrid are developed by Blandon jets.

Turbine Engines and Hybrid Cars - Jaguar Hybrid Electric Cars - Popular Mechanics

Last edited by speedmiester : 18th October 2010 at 17:42.
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Old 18th October 2010, 18:16   #5
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Somehow I suspect this is not for their automotive business. Tata recently set up a new business called Tata Advanced Systems Limited to develop a variety of defence products. Now Ratan Tata is himself a pilot and Tata actually pioneered aviation in India. It is quite reasonable to think of this aquisition aimed at providing engines for military UAVs taht the armed forces are likely to use in sizeable numbers in the future. Several domestic companies are coming up with UAV designs so it may not be beyond reason that TASL may step in with its own design, powered by its on engine. This is even more likely, given that the acquisition hasnt been done by Tata Motors Limited.

Or who knows, Tata may be looking at learning the ABC of jet engine design and manufacturing via this route.
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Old 18th October 2010, 20:28   #6
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I think this just shows how serious they are with electric vehicles. Their investment in miljobil grenland was probably for low end electric vehicles i.e. the battery technology.

For high end cars like Jaguar to produce more power, the micro gas turbine technology makes more sense. So, at this point this is just a wise investment to test the technology for Jaguar. If this could be leveraged for other fields/applications in the future, then that would be a bonus.
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Old 18th October 2010, 20:53   #7
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The Bladon turbine is too small for aviation applications. The turbine is designed to generate power at a steady and optimum speed, maximising efficiency. They are not designed to work at variable engine speeds or power outputs. This is a serious project and is reflected in the fact that the UK Govt. has pumpmed approx. $1.8 million funding into this project.
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Old 18th October 2010, 21:43   #8
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I don't think it has anything to do with cars. Am sure somewhere in the archives are voluminous files on the Rover P6 and turbines.

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Old 18th October 2010, 22:15   #9
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The reason turbines failed in real world applications was due to the fact that they powered the drive train directly similar to an IC engine. The narrow usable range of the turbine engines and horrible fuel efficiency were primary reasons for their faliure. In the Jag the turbine is only a generator or whats known in the automotive world as a range extender. The primary task of powering the wheels lie with electric motors (instant torque) while the turbine is responsible for only rechgarging the battery.

What makes Bladon unique is that it is very very compact and only uses a one piece bladed disc (which is the companies core competence). Just imagine a single moving component to generate power, the efficiency that can be achieved is incredible. Also the engine can be adapted to various types of fuel. The CX75 is not a mock up but it is a running concept.

Last edited by shortbread : 18th October 2010 at 22:16. Reason: correction
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