Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Piston vs. Gas Turbine Engines, Efficiency, Final Thoughts

Pulling together all of the research and thinking I've done on the question of engine efficiency over the last couple of months, here is my conclusion...

If I were to write a design spec. for the power source for my "dream-team" agricultural robot harvester/tender it would specify a hybrid design consisting of a single-shaft gas-turbine generator combination driving a super-capacitor bank.

It would come in a drop-in package that could be changed in/out with a 1/2" socket set and 3/8" flare nut wrench.  The engine-generator set, the fuel tank and the super-capacitor bank would each be mounted as separate units.

But such a design is not realizable yet.  To date, there are no small 1-2 kW gas turbine engines commercially produced.  Though, the work being done on micro gas turbines makes one optimistic that someday they will be.

For now, if I had the machine shop to do it in, what I would do, would be to mount one of the Honda Gas Engines (showcased in a previous post) on a testbed and try to run it continuously for a few months and see how it holds up.  If it does, then it would make a good second option for an agricultural robot harvester/tender's power source.

If more information comes my way, I may yet change my mind on this subject.  But for now, I've gone as far on this subject as I can.  So it's time to put this aspect of robot design to bed for awhile and start on something new.

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