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Next-generation automotive technologies are sometimes developed steadily, and sometimes announced spectacularly, but not all of them have been installed in commercial vehicles.

Even if it’s an expensive option that no one buys, it’s still good if it’s set, and there are many technologies that haven’t been used in commercial vehicles. Power units also saw the emergence and disappearance of all sorts of “new technologies.”

Today’s automobiles are in the process of transitioning from internal combustion engines such as gasoline and diesel engines to electric vehicles that use batteries and motors in some form or another. will introduce

gas turbine engine/hybrid

The pursuit of possibilities continued, from direct drive to generators for hybrids

A modified Toyota Sports 800 GT hybrid car using a gas turbine engine as a generator (1977)

After the performance of the aircraft jet engine developed in the 1930s stabilized in the 1950s, the core gas turbine was applied in various ways and is expected to become the next-generation engine for automobiles.

Chrysler of the United States was enthusiastic about passenger cars, and they ran demonstration vehicles in countries around the world, including Japan. Among domestic manufacturers, Nissan produced generators for high-speed long-distance buses, Toyota produced generators for hybrid cars in the early days, and later direct-drive concept cars. will also announce

However, the gas turbine engine, which extracts output from the power shaft of the jet engine, not only has the advantages of low vibration, high output, and the ability to use a variety of fuels, but also has the disadvantages of violent noise, poor response, and fatally poor fuel efficiency. inherited from the jet engine.

As a result, only Marine Turbine Technology, a US gas turbine bike, has put such a crazy power unit on the market.

steam engine

An omnivorous power unit that can do anything if you can create steam pressure

2-cylinder steam engine installed in the 3rd generation 230 Cedric (1975)

If we simply think of a nuclear power plant, there is an example that it is nothing more than a “nuclear water heater” that rotates the turbine of the generator with the steam pressure of the hot water boiled in the nuclear reactor. Anything is possible as long as you can create pressure, and the characteristic that does not choose fuel is attractive.

Around the time of the oil crisis in the 1970s, there was a movement to revive the steam engine, which had been the strongest power unit until the development of the gasoline engine.

If the biggest problem of “no torque is produced until the steam pressure rises” can be overcome by adopting a kind of mild hybrid that uses compressed air for the initial power, then it has a characteristic similar to that of a motor, which produces more torque than an internal combustion engine, so it is promising. However, due to the stabilization of oil prices, the development was slowing down.

Even now, steam engine enthusiasts are making speed record challenge cars, and development continues, and it may have unexpected future potential as a power unit that can easily use alternative fuels.

flywheel battery

Source: flickr.com Author: Alden Jewell CC BY 2.0

Although various batteries and fuel cells have been put to practical use as power sources for electric vehicles that run entirely or partially on motors, there are other ways to store electricity.

One of them is the flywheel battery, which “converts electrical energy into physical energy that temporarily rotates”. If you turn the machine, you can take out electricity instead of slowing down.

Demonstration test vehicles that can be installed instead of storage batteries on trains, buses, and trucks have been made, but they have not been put to practical use as batteries as the main power source are too large and heavy.

However, there is an example that it was used as a small power storage device for acceleration in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro racing car, and it has a track record of winning the overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2012, but in the end lithium It was just a bridge until the in-battery developed.

* The author information of the images used in this article is as of the publication date.

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