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.


35 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? 😛 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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    we want work out more techniques in this regard, thank you for sharing.
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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?

  16. on June 25, 2015 11:31 AM

    I am designing a small four wheel mountain bike sourced electric vehicle that uses two types of locomotion. Human powered, electric. Solar is employed to power on board devices. I would like to add the generator as an option, making it a hybrid. The addition of another level of option would be a great addition to our product line. The vehicle is tentatively titled ‘terralite’

  17. on June 25, 2015 11:44 AM

    Hi again! I was so excited after reading about the Turbine Generator (in a suitcase) that I found their site and priced the unit. I expected it would be expensive and guessed it would be in the 5kUSD to 10kUSD range. No it was 25kUSD! So for our ‘terralite’ ATV I suppose its back to searching for a generator/engine combo that is both very light weight and a little less expensive than the beautiful unit from Japan.

  18. Charles Garner on June 25, 2015 12:08 PM

    I would like to see, for a RV, a 7-10 K Watt, quiet and fuel effecient, for charging batteries and operating all the RV appliances, making it a stand alone system for extended travel and camping.

  19. Jason on July 14, 2015 9:54 PM

    Believe me when I say I’m asking and not implying, but could one of these micro turbine units be fueled by minimal amounts (ounces) of natural gas…in turn charging a bank of 12 volt batteries, which could power an average home via a bank of 12V deep cycle batteries and an inverter?

  20. Roberto J Gutierrez on October 8, 2015 9:22 PM

    I have an inocent idea to use a small gas turbine, need to know more in regards cost and operating prosedures.

  21. Pradeep koushik on November 27, 2015 6:38 AM

    Dear sir,
    We are looking for small air expanders to cool air.
    1.Clean filtered and dry inlet air at 2.2 bar (g) 1000 to 1100 M3/hr between at 38 deg.C.
    2.loading of turbine can be done by us or you with compressor or fan.
    3.outlet air is expected at 2deg.C at 0.5bar(G)
    4.We are looking for a low cost ,light weight solution.
    5.Qty.6 to 10 no.s per year.after tryout.
    6.Cooled air is for air conditioning.
    Could you offer a standard solution?
    Pradeep Koushik

  22. Kanyi Stanley Gachanja on December 15, 2015 6:13 AM

    I would like to purchase the small IHI gas turbine generator

  23. Kanyi Stanley Gachanja on December 15, 2015 6:15 AM

    how much does it cost?

  24. Carlos Barrera on January 21, 2016 3:40 PM

    State of the Art – Novel InFlow Tech – Featured Project Development;|/ ·1; Rotary-Turbo-InFlow Tech / – GEARTURBINE PROJECT Have the similar basic system of the Aeolipilie Heron Steam Turbine device from Alexandria 10-70 AD * With Retrodynamic = DextroRPM VS LevoInFlow + Ying Yang Way Power Type – Non Waste Looses *8X/Y Thermodynamic CYCLE Way Steps. 4 Turbos, Higher efficient percent. No blade erosion by sand & very low heat target signature Pat:197187IMPI MX Dic1991 Atypical Motor Engine Type. |/·2; Imploturbocompressor; One Moving Part System Excellence Design – The InFlow Interaction comes from Macro-Flow and goes to Micro-Flow by Implossion – Only One Compression Step; Inflow, Compression and outflow at one simple circular dynamic motion / New Concept. To see a Imploturbocompressor animation, is possible on a simple way, just to check an Hurricane Satellite view, and is the same implo inflow way nature.

  25. Capt. S. Ghuloum on October 25, 2016 6:17 AM

    Kindly inform if the gas turbine generator is available for sale.Guarantee period and spare parts availability are most important.
    Possibility and ease of switch over fuel (LNG -Propane-butane -Kerosene).
    Kindly send full information.

  26. Ricardo Barbaran on January 3, 2017 1:21 AM

    I live in San Jose CA. I would like to buy a unit or two. Where do I buy one?

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  28. R. Ayer on July 11, 2017 5:29 PM

    Send over the information, why is the exhaust temp so low? What is the output.

  29. R. Ayer on July 11, 2017 5:30 PM

    Would you like a plasma ignition system for this?

    ron at

  30. Grainis Hydrogen Bulgaria on November 19, 2017 3:16 PM

    Ultrasono-Modified Oxy-Hydrogen (MOH) Gas is the ideal fuel for such a turbine.

  31. Jill Roberts on November 19, 2017 6:54 PM

    Should work great on Electric cars, I assume

  32. Jill Roberts on November 19, 2017 6:56 PM

    Should work great on Electric cars

  33. Aroon Viswanathan on November 20, 2017 12:44 PM

    The article is from 2012 – what are the developments in the past 5 years?
    1. What are the power nodes available?
    2. What different fuels can be used?
    3. With a low exhaust temp, if fossil fuels are used, do you see issues with condensation of hydrocarbons?
    4. Is it commercially available?

  34. John R. Holand on November 22, 2019 7:52 AM

    what is the status of this unit. This sounds like a great option for an off grid solar/wind/battery/self generating solution

  35. Rbd on October 9, 2020 4:45 PM

    The 70C exhaust temperature means it has good efficiency only of the exhaust air flow is very low. But I suspect it’s very high.

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