This is way too cool to overlook.  Atsushi Takano at Nikkei Monozukuri magazine reported in Tech-On that IHI Corp of Japan has developed a compact gas turbine generator unit.  The gas turbine and generator set is so small it fits in a suitcase.

IHI Compact Gas Turbine Generator Set Layout in a Suitcase.

All by itself, running on propane the unit autonomously generates electricity.  IHI is saying this is the first time in the world that a portable gas turbine generator has been used to autonomously generate electricity.  So be it.  It’s also incredibly small.

The IHI gas turbine generator used for the unit is approximately 80mm (3.15”) in diameter and 120mm (4.75”) in length. It starts up and stops by using push button switches. Rated power generation gets going about 30 seconds after the starting operation. It comes to a complete stop about two minutes and 30 seconds after the shutdown signal is sent.  There must be a top quality bearing set inside.

IHI Compact Gas Turbine Power Unit.

There is one sign of the unit’s efficiency; the exhaust gas temperature is 70°C or 158ºF.  While that would scald skin, its hundreds of degrees lower than a first thought would suggest.  That low temperature implies the unit is exceptionally efficient at combustion energy conversion to rotating mass.

Propane, or LPG isn’t the only fuel the unit can handle.  The company confirmed to Tech-On that the gas turbine generator unit supports a variety of fuels such as kerosene and light oil.

IHI has been at this sort of thing awhile.  Some readers might realize that IHI is a world significant turbocharger manufacturer with serious skills.  The company also has aerospace experience with Japan’s space program.  The engineering skill set seems to be very proficient at the micro level.  The company has used the skills in the research and development of the portable gas turbine generators based on its experience in ultrahigh-speed rotating machinery technology developed for its jet engine and turbocharger businesses.  It looks like a natural follow on business.

The Tech-On writer notes that IHI suggests that by taking advantage of the light weight and high output power of a compact gas turbine, it might be possible to realize a power density (maximum output per unit mass) and energy density (continuous operation time per unit mass) that are much higher than those of reciprocating engines and fuel cells.

IHI expects that the gas turbine generator unit will be used as a charger for personal and mobile devices as well as a power source for a robot.  Future plans are to further reduce the size and weight of the unit and increase the output power plus develop technologies to comply with specifications required for various applications.

So far as your humble writer knows, IHI is the first with a prototype gas turbine connected to a generator as a kit.  Both the U.S. and the UK have entrepreneurial firms working at similar goals.  So it’s with great pleasure to see one get to a working prototype.  When the other firms send their news I’ll be happy to spread it out too.

Turbines are external combustion and can offer more thermal efficiency than internal combustion such as piston and cylinder engines. The problem has been both size and heat dissipation that parallel requirements for exotic materials and manufacturing processes.  That is balanced by fuel efficiency and very long life.

That 70ºC exhaust temp is very intriguing.  No mention is made at Tech-On of the rated electrical power out, yet that and the projected pricing are very interesting facts we’ll keep an eye out for.  Lets hope that the miniaturization has a beneficial impact on manufacturing costs.


15 Comments so far

  1. Adam on February 21, 2012 8:37 AM

    Couldn’t something like this be used as a range extender for an electric vehicles? If its light enough and power output is enough.

  2. Roy on February 23, 2012 4:50 PM

    Good idea Adam. This could also be used for small personal aircraft and drones if the power to weight ratio is good.

  3. Andrew on February 26, 2012 11:46 AM

    This article on a-turbine-generator-in-a-suitcase mentioned here:

  4. HERO TIRTHANI on March 31, 2012 9:19 AM

    I am interested in subscribing to your newsletter. Please add my email. thanks

  5. marvin johnson on November 11, 2012 12:32 AM

    You are toying with future. Lights are going to led and generating electricity needs the same break through. Keep up the research.

  6. Charlie Garner on November 14, 2012 8:52 PM

    I have a Gasoline powered R V, Motor Home. R Vs notoiously use a lot of fuel. I woul love to see the devopment of a “retro package”, such as a Turbine Generator, with a electric motor, to power the coa h and supply household electricity, for AC and other appliances.

  7. Mark on November 23, 2012 5:01 AM

    This sounds really good, I think a friend of mine saw it on the discovery channel. I would like to be kept up to date with your email letters and updates. Thanks

  8. BALA on January 3, 2013 9:38 PM

    Mr. Roy gas turbine first used in air craft then its modify to power generation

  9. Math And Logic Good For Brain on January 4, 2013 2:39 PM

    I usually do not drop many comments, but I browsed
    a few of the remarks here A Turbine Generator in
    a Suitcase | New Energy and Fuel. I actually do have a few questions
    for you if you don’t mind. Could it be only me or does it seem like some of these comments look as if they are written by brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are posting on additional online sites, I’d like to follow anything fresh you have to post.
    Could you list of every one of all your shared pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  10. George on January 31, 2013 1:15 PM

    Most cars on the market use a reciprocating engine which is one type of Internal Combustion Engine. A Gas Turbine is a different type of Internal Combustion Engine which is more efficient than a Reciprocating Engine.

  11. looking for dating on April 9, 2013 5:33 AM

    Hi, thanks for sharing.

  12. Dom on April 23, 2013 11:28 PM

    how many the hp or watts does this produce? … and how much gas does it use to produce it? I think this might be kinda important – don’t you??

  13. pezzi di ricambio fiat on January 5, 2014 4:09 AM

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  14. Steve on July 31, 2014 5:10 PM

    What ever happened to this “Compact Gas Turbine”? Do you have a spec package that talks to expected output; what can be operated off of it; can it be linked to an EV system charging package etc.?

  15. sumit on September 10, 2014 10:34 AM

    is it available for sale?

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