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A recuperator heat exchanger inside the engine can recovers waste heat from the exhaust
How did you come to be involved in the medium-duty truck industry?

It’s kind of a business plan development process. We try to figure out how big is the market for what you’re trying to start a company to build and what is the value proposition to the customer when you finally take it to market.

So all of those things lead you in the direction of high fuel consumpxion vehicles and that would be trucks. Then there’s the straight economics of the fuel consumpxion. The point of electric drive is that it’s more efficient but you can’t save more fuel than the vehicle burns in the first place. Trying to get this to work in vehicles that only burn 250 gallons a year is not possible. But if you get into garbage trucks, for example, they burn 14,000 gallons a year — that’s a lot easier.

How would you describe one of your trucks?

We don’t call it a hybrid because if you do then everybody thinks you’re retaining the original engines and we don’t. It's a range-extended EV. So it’s basically a complete battery-powered EV powertrain. Plug it in, charge it. But it has also a range-extended generator which is, in this case, a turbine. 

So how much range are we talking for urban and refuse trucks where the mileage might not be high but fuel consumpxion is?

Well, with the range extender it is unlimited — as long as you have fuel you can keep driving. 

So if your question is ‘why don’t they just make it all battery packs since they don’t do that many miles in a day?’ then let's do the numbers for a garbage truck. They average about 130 miles per day at 2.8 mpg with a thousand hard stops. To do that as a battery-EV, you would use up about half of the payload and about half of the space that is currently occupied by the garbage body for the battery pack, which would cost half a million dollars. So it isn’t feasible to do those as battery vehicles. People try, but what happens is they wind up with not enough range to do an average day’s work and generally they can’t do it in the full-size trucks anyway. 
Currently, contribution from North America and Europe in the global microturbines market is the highest. Among the two regions, North America is the largest contributor, accounting for 40-50% of the global market. Currently, USA dominates the market and expected to continue with in this position till 2020. Increasing carbon footprint and regulatory intervention by several environmental agencies including CAA (Clean Air Act) are likely to fuel product demand in North America. Europe is the second largest geographic segment in the global market. Restructured EU NEC (European Union National Emission Ceilings) policies have fuelled the microturbine market in Europe. APAC is expected to register a significant growth in future owing to the demand for fuel-efficient vehicles. In Brazil, the government has come up with strong supportive schemes.

The global market can also be further segmented in terms of its application, such as CHP generation and standby power.The demand for Combined Cooling & Heating Power (CCHP) and Combined Heating & Power (CHP) generation technologies is expected to increase significantly due to rising concerns about global warming. The rising cost of electricity is also forecast to fuel the demand for microturbine technology.

Currently, low power rating segment has the largest contribution in the global microturbine market. Low power rating segment has maximum demand in hybrid electric vehicles. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are investing in R&D activities to enhance the efficiency of microturbines.

The global microturbine market can be segmented by end use, which includes, industrial, commercial and residential. Currently, contribution from the industrial end use segment in the range of 45-55% is the largest in the global microturbines market. Furthermore, the market is categorised as per CHP generation and standby power applications, of which CHP generation dominates the market.

Companies such as Brayton Energy and Capstone are the key players who are working towards developing efficient microturbines. At present, Capstone is the leading player in the global microturbine market and the company is expected to continue its dominance till 2019. Key players that deal in microturbine systems include FlexEnergy, Global Microturbine LLC, and NewEnCo.

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