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Capstone, Kenworth testing a microturbine-powered hybrid electric truck

7 September 2017

Capstone Turbine Corporation, a manufacturer of microturbine energy systems, announced that it has successfully completed track testing of a Kenworth Class 7 hybrid electric work truck using its 65 kW natural gas microturbine as an on board range extender. The track testing confirmed both high-speed performance as well as operation on 20% grades.

Microturbine-powered Class 7 hybrid electric work truck

The vehicle has been developed in cooperation with the Kenworth Truck Company, under a program funded in part by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District in California. The objective of the program is to demonstrate the fuel economy benefits and reductions in NOx and greenhouse gas emissions of a microturbine-powered delivery or work vehicle.

The Kenworth Class 7 work truck features a Capstone C65 microturbine that is installed onboard and operates on compressed natural gas. The microturbine acts as a range extender to charge an onboard 47 kWh Li-ion battery pack, which in turn provides power to the electric traction motors that propel the truck. The truck is fitted with a refrigerated box body that uses electric power to provide payload cooling while on the road, thereby eliminating the need to operate a separate diesel engine generator set. The drivetrain is sized for urban delivery cycles, but is also capable of achieving highway speeds, said the company.

For low-mileage urban delivery routes, the diesel equivalent truck miles-per-gallon could be as much as three times higher for the microturbine hybrid compared to a diesel truck, according to a simulation developed by Capstone. The corresponding reductions in NOx and GHG emissions could be as much as 90% and 65%, respectively. Capstone plans to begin customer demonstration testing later this year, as well as additional drive cycle testing to confirm predicted performance.

“Electric vehicles are gaining market traction in buses, automobiles and heavy duty trucks,” said Jim Crouse, Capstone’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “With recent announcements from major manufacturers such as Tesla and Cummins that underscore the industry’s growing acceptance of heavy-duty electric drivetrains, Capstone intends to be an active participant in this emerging technology shift.”

Source: Capstone