Alternator on a turbo

I read that an experimenter fitted an alternator onto a turbo and got free charging from the exhaust. This seems like a very logical and obvious thing
to do, and must raise mpg and no fan belts to snap. A beefier alternator and a larger battery could run electric a/c as well, by using waste energy from the exhaust.
Has anyone ever seen such a conversion?
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I've never seen one.
The energy derived from the turbo won't be entirely free. Adding the turbo will increase back pressure and potentially lower performance and mileage.
Turbos don't run at a "fixed speed" relative to demand or relative to exhaust gas volume available. When electrical demand is very low and exhaust gas flow is very high (like at wide open throttle when accelerating hard), the turbo might spin at very high RPMs. If the electrical demand is high and the exhaust gas flow is very low (like at idle) the turbo might spin very slowly (so slowly it won't charge at all). The normal rpm range for a belt driven alternator is maybe 10 to 1 (high to low). For a turbo driven alternator, it might be 100 to 1. This makes for a difficult design. To overcome this you could introduce some sort of waste gate or governor to regulator the speed of the turbo, but now you are making things much more complicated. I think you would need a specially designed lower speed turbo (current turbos spin at high speeds to more efficiently drive the attached centrifugal blower). I also think you will need to include some sort of governor or waste gate to prevent the turbo from turning too fast. The presence of the turbo will increase back pressure which will reduce mileage and maximum power.
In the end I think you will end up with a very complex system that won't improve your mileage by any measurable amount. But, if you design one, let us know how it works!
Ed
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A turbo-driven alternator could theoretically power a toaster oven and eliminate the need to cook food on the exhaust manifold on the way home from work.
Seriously, the drawbacks to a turbo-driven alternator probably outweigh the benefits.
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It doesn't need to run at a constant speed. At tickover revs will be low, but they are anyhow as they are.
I just thought about this and go further, 50% of the heat of an engine roughly wasted, 25% to the exhaust and 25% via the radiator. Capturing this heat and using it as in an absorption system for a/c and say a small free wheel piston Stirling generator - coils in the piston and around the cylinder, as used in some cogen units - would improve efficiency. The cogen units produces around 1.1kW. Depending on how much heat is captured the Stirling generator could produce enough power to charge a large battery and use an electric motor to assist in car acceleration - brake regen as well. An engine with a light flywheel can then be used.
All that wasted heat can be harnessed to improve efficiency. The technology is here, it just needs engineering.
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wrote:

Sounds like a very reasonable assessment of the problem. I also read about a guy who glued straps to his boots, drew them up over his shoulders and now flies with Superman.
There is no such thing as a free lunch! Perpetual motion machines don't exist. If it seems too good to be true, then is probably is. Keep these statements in mind while you are drawing out your plans for this device.
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I saw this. Interesting. So I was in the right track. It is a tubo charger booster then a genny when the engine is up to speed. http://www.ecomotors.com/technology
Electrically Controlled Turbocharger
This development in turbocharger technology incorporates an electric motor into the turbo assembly. In essence, it provides a supercharger, driven by the electric motor, as an adjunct to the exhaust-driven turbocharger. Boost pressure can be created by the electric motor, the turbocharger, or both. The ECT effectively eliminates turbo lag because the electric motor provides much faster turbine response, and also provides boost when there is low energy from the exhaust flow. The motor is actuated by an electronic controller, which can be integrated with the engine control unit. When it is being spun by the turbocharger, the electric motor acts as generator, producing electricity.
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This concept is a spin (so to speak) on a supercharger/turbo combination. While the electric motor can generate electricity when the unit is in turbocharger mode, it doesn't produce electricity during times of low exhaust flow so another means of producing electricity is needed during those times, like a conventional alternator. The net effect is probably more overall electricity demand in urban driving conditions and a net gain at highway speeds, but the net gain is wasted unless there is some means to store the additional power for use when needed. A battery pack would add cost, complexity, and weight to the vehicle, and the additional weight would negate the 1 MPG gain if the alternator decouples when not needed. The system would probably add over $1,000 to the cost of the vehicle, and the most improvement that could possibly be gained is the 1 or 2 MPG that is lost to driving the alternator. A more realistic net gain is probably a half MPG.
If gas is $3.00/gallon and a car gets 30 MPG, then the cost per mile is $3.00 divided by 30 = 10 cents per mile.
If gas is $3.00/gallon and a car gets the best case fuel economy improvement of 2 MPG, then the cost per mile is $3.00 divided by 32 = 9.375 cents per mile, or a savings of 0.625 cents per mile. If the setup costs an additional $1,000 then the payback time from a 2 MPG savings is 1,000 miles divided by 0.00625 = 160,000 mile payback.
If the fuel economy is 1 MPG (more realistic than 2 MPG) then the cost per mile is $3.00 divided by 31 = 9.677 cents/mile, for a savings of 0.323 cents per mile. 1,000 miles divided by .00323 = 309,597 miles to break even.
The payoff might be a little quicker if the electric/turbo combination replaces a larger displacement engine and results in a larger fuel economy gain, but smaller turbo engines already replace larger displacement engines so the only part of the fuel economy gain that can logically be used in the cost/payback calculation is any net fuel economy improvements the electric part of the turbo gains from non-use of the alternator.
If I'm off on the cost by 50% and the cost of an electric turbo/battery combination is $500 instead of $1,000, the payoff is still 80,000 miles for a 2 mpg gain and 150,000 miles for a 1 mpg gain. I wouldn't expect to see widespread adoption soon.
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They do exist that is my point. Depending on the design and engine, etc, removing the alternator and having a larger battery may make sense. At what revs would the electric motor cut out and it become an alternator? I think with careful engineering the alternator can be eliminated and the turbo provide electricity generation. Also,when starting there is no alternator load to drag on the engine. Again having an electric water cooling pump that only cuts in after the engine starts would also reduce engine starting load. Meaning a smaller starter motor which takes less out of the battery.
BTW, Bill Gates put over 23 million into Ecomotors to develop the engine, and opposed piston 2-stroke. The mechanical/electric turbo is used to scavenge and supercharge the engine. The engine may have an electric clutch that switches out half of the engine on low loads. If it does what they say it will, it may not need an auto transmission and go direct. They say they will demonstrate a 100mpg car with the engine in the next 18 months or so - we will see. The designer designed the VW engines, so has a good pedigree.
Lotus have a 2-stroke under development that has variable displacement (the top of the cylinder is another piston that moves up and down to get the effect by an electric servo motor) also using an electric scavenge fan. Times may be a changin'. Or will they? IMHO, the success of the Chevy Volt will dictate what way autos will go.
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Yes, there are lots of technologies that theoretically and actually improve fuel economy, but most have a cost associated with implementing the technology. If the technology is not cost-effective, automakers won't adopt the technology on a wide basis because consumers are going to be reluctant to pay for it or put up with the compromises. I believe that improvements in fuel economy will be incremental in a practical vehicle. The Prius is successful because it can be used like a conventional vehicle, and GM hedged on the Volt by including an internal combustion engine to power a generator.
Eliminating an engine powered water pump would not measurably reduce engine starting load so the starter could not be made smaller. It takes more work to twist the cap off of a soda bottle or the lid off of a jar than it takes to turn a water pump.
The RPM at whch an electrically powered supercharger would cut out and become an alternator depends on a lot of variables including piston displacement; engine RPM; whether the vehicle is tuned for pure fuel economy, performance, or somewhere in between; the weight of the vehicle; throttle angle, intake air temperature; turbocharger intake and output pressure; turbocharger turbine weight and RPM; available electrical power; alternator output; battery state of charge; the electric motor's draw; and probably more that I don't recall off the top of my head.
It would be expensive to eliminate the alternator because a vehicle's battery would have to be huge and heavy to power the ignition system, lighting, HVAC, rear defogger, entertainment, on-board computers, supplemental restraint system, and the electric turbocharger while the turbo isn't generating power. If an engine idles or operates at low RPM like in stop-and-go traffic under the generator/turbo combo, it would quickly deplete a battery. Did you know that in many vehicles, using the rear defogger, headlights, heater fan, radio, fog lights, and windshield wiper use more power than the alternator generates at idle?
There are lots of things in a modern auto that could be eliminated, which would lighten the vehicle, reduce engine load, and improve fuel economy but consumer tastes have evolved to where they are considered necessary. Examples of features that are not really necessary and add weight, increase electrical load, and/or engine load are power window motors; power door lock actuators; audio systems; more than 1 speaker in an audio system; air conditioning; tilt steering wheel; power seats; padded seats; arm rests; cupholders; carpeting; floor mats; headliner; inner door liner; weatherstripping; spare tire; keyless entry system; fog lights; power steering; antilock brakes; stability control system; body and chassis that is larger than a compact size; engine displacement larger than needed to achieve the speed limit in a reasonable amount of time; suspension system that is more complex than that on a carriage; sunroof; navigation system; visor mirror; starter motor; automatic transmission; and probably lots more.
None of this stuff is required for a vehicle to operate but your average modern mid-sized vehicle has all of this and more, probably adding 500 pounds or more of convenience and comfort features that are pretty much expected.

The Ecomotor engine is a very interesting design, and I can see its advantages. The biggest disadvantage seems to be emissions. I'd bet that if this engine were put in production before today's emissions requirements, it would have benefitted from the time and effort put into reducing the emissions on today's conventional IC engines. The other challenge to the Ecomotor engine seems to be durability. The article only mentioned that the motor was achieving the designer's durability goals, the fact that it was mentioned makes me think that durabiliity may be an issue, most likely on combustion chamber sealing and lubrication. While it is probably possible to overcome the emissions and durability issues, the Wankel rotary engine that was also supposed to solve these issues comes to mind.
I don't see how they could eliminate an auto transmission since it runs at higher RPM than a conventional IC engine with comparble horsepower and torque.
It looks like this engine has a promising future; if they can build a durable, clean engine with good performance at a reasonable cost, they would have a winner.
They say they

Technology exists today to make a car provide good performance, fuel economy, and low or no emissions. Tesla already produces cars that provide all three. The challenge is for the car to have a range comparable to car with an IC engine at an affordable price or at least a price that people are willing to pay; with a recharging or refueling time measured in minutes instead of hours. A battery-swap program would only work if every car had the same size battery module, which is not likely to happen because of cost and a stagnation of technology improvements.
I saw an article recently that quoted one of the Volt's engineers who said that the Volt's carbon footprint is larger than a conventional car's footprint.
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Ray O wrote:
<...>

It might take less torque to turn a water pump, but it definitely takes more power.
The reasons why engineers want to make things electrically driven rather than driven by belts include:
1) There is a lot less friction from the belts 2) There's no power drain when the stuff isn't being used (although the A/C compressor doesn't always turn, there is some friction with the bearings and belts that are still turning) 3) Things like compressors can be made more efficient if they are designed to run in a narrower ranger of speeds (if they're belt driven, they have to work when the engine is going from 600 RPM to 6000 RPM), 4) 4) Things like the A/C compressor can be put where it makes sense from an A/C engineering point of view, not based on where the belts run. The power steering pump can be put near the steering rack. 5) This leads to less weight, too, because things like the A/C lines, power steering lines, etc., don't have to be routed to run near the engine, so that they shorter. This also simplifies the engine compartment and eliminates a bunch of brackets. 6) The engine doesn't need to be running for the A/C, power steering, etc., to work, so that the cars can be made so that the engines turn on and off automatically and seemlessly, to save fuel when the engine would otherwise be idling.
So the reason for getting rid of belt driven things is to save fuel, not lighten the load of the starter when the engine starting.
Jeff
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Excellent point. A car is not a car as they were, they are a mini house with heatinga nd a/c systema and furniture inside.

A smaller starter does help. :-)
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/09/bmw_introduces_.html "BMW is now using new electrical coolant pumps in its straight-six engines. The electrical pumps operating exactly-and only-when required, meaning that they develop their maximum output and performance only at high and very high speeds."
Using an electric water pump means the pump can be at full speed cooling the engine when a car is in a traffic jam on very hot day with the a/c on. A mechanical water pump may not be pumping the water around fast enough to cool the hot spots in the engine, leading to excessive engine wear. To me, an electric water pump and fully synthetic oil would improve cooling and eliminate the need for an oil cooler in many models of engine/car - and no flexible rubber oil lines to burst and right-off your engine.
BMW's charging system only charges when the engine is on over-run or braking. The engine developes more HP (kW) and can be downsized. The alternator is disconnected via a beefy clutch when the engine is powering the car. They fit a smaller starter - less draw on te battery.
Then put in electric power steering and fuel consumption matters are even better again. Then using a Ni-cad battery or Lith-Ion battery will mean greater electrical capacity for a smaller battery package.
As said, fan belts for the water pump and power steering can be eliminated. Also using an electric a/c compressor will make matters better too and again another fan belt eliminated. None of this is rocket science and can be implemented immediately in all cars.
Electric cooling pumps are available right now as thrird party retro fit kits.
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Scribe wrote:

<copyrighted material deleted>
Yet, the article does not say that the reason there was a smaller starter was that there was less drag on the engine. I would think that the drag on the engine from the belts is less than 10% of the output of the starter; if it were really an issue, you could design a pulley with a clutch in it - like they do on the A/C compressors.
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That is what BMW proposed. A cutch on the alternator. The alternators only charges when braking or decelerating, or when the battery is below I think 80% capacity.
BMW say 4% for the alternator alone. I read somewhere that 20% of fuel can be saved if all ancillaries, even the oil pump were electric. Sounds a bit optimistic to me, but...
If all ancillaries, even oil pump, were electric and applied to an engine running at a fixed speed such as a range extender, then greater economy can be had. Oil pumps take a lot of HP off the crank to turn. When the engine is running at a fixed speed the pump can be set for a fixed speed taking less kW to turn. But, maybe, a machical oil pump sized for a fixed speed would not take high HP from the crank as a normal variable speed engine would. It can also prime the galleries before start up reducing engine wear. The engine would have no belts.
All easy to do.
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Running things like the AC compressor, PS, and water pump has a lot of advantages when it comes to fitting the components in the engine compartment, improving efficiency, reducing parasitic loads on the IC engine, and allowing the components to operate when the IC engine is shut down, but there are 2 big tradeoffs.
Your statement that electrically driven components save weight is not necessarily true because electric motors are fairly heavy, the weight of the motor is probably more than what would be saved routing hoses and reducing the size of mounting brackets. A motor would be needed for each component, multiplying the weight gain. For example a motor capable of driving an AC compressor probably weighs 5 or 10 pounds, and the total weight of all of the AC hoses is probably less than that, so there would not be any net savings in weight.
The other tradeoff is that electric motors cost money, and the cost of the motors is going to be more than the cost savings from shorter hoses and smaller brackets.
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I don't go along with that, as electric motors have become very small to what they were -and they are getting smaller. An electric motor turning an a/c at constant speed will matters very different and a smaller motor to suit.
You also have to take into account that hose area a potential failure point. Motors are ultra reliable. The bearings fail before the electrical side in 90% plus of cases. Electric motors cost no more than mechanical pumps, especially when mass production comes in.
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http://www.recodrive.eu/window.phtml?id 89#293
"Another 10% Increase in Engine Efficiency Possible? Coming across studies investigating thermo electric energy regeneration from waste energy in combustion engines, we wonder about potential implementations. The Thermoelectric Generator Module (TGM) has a typical electric output of 700-1000W in trucks and may charge the batteries or power compressors. It is said that spark ignition engines will profit more and apart from the exhaust heat, the water cooling system is another candidate for heat extraction source. The efficiency of he TGM was 5% in 1994 and has been increased to 7% in laboratories using skutterudite-based thermoelectric conversion material (source). In 2011 we may see the TGM in production according to GM and BSST researchers source. Of course cleaner exhaust as we see with natural gas will help keep the TGM working. 08/2008"
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I agree that if improvement are marginal with more cost few with go for it. Turbos fell from grace as they just improve the stroke giving greater displacement using the same engines blocks in many cases - one piece of complexity out of the way.
In this case, the mech/electro turbo/alternator and added by me, using a variable speed electric cooling pump. 1. The engine can be smaller for the same power output. The power/weight ratio improves. Smaller engine means lower cost. 2. The alternator can be removed saving cost 3. The starter motor can be made smaller, saving cost 4. The battery needs to in theory, be made larger, but not much as the starter motor may draw far less from the battery, as no colling pump or alternator to turn on start up. So, maybe little difference in battery size making no difference to cost.
Mass production always brings down prices. When something new comes in people say its too expensive and will not catch on and then a few years later it is standard. The Chevy Volt is expensive - I can't see why, but it is. When others adopt the same setup prices will tumble.

The Prius was initially successful as they would not have a charge point on it. They knew the plug-in aspect would put people off. Although CalCars conversions prove that you can plug-in and if you do not want to just use gasoline 100% of the time. People are frightened off buying a car by negative urban myths. London is crawling with the Prius.

It all adds up. The pull is far less thanthe alternator for sure. It also gives shorter warm up as the pump can be off untill up to a certain temperature. It can also be on full in bumper to bumper traffic. There are great knock-on benefits

That is what I was getting at. Designing the engine to suit and it could cut out at a lower RPM. The electric motor can also come it to assist in acceleration bursts.
The energy to turn the motor does come from the battery which is charged by the engine. But when decelerating it is still charging and not using fuel, so clawing back using kinetic energy.

Most of these can be off when starting - a relay cuts them out leaving only the essential circuits running. Again depending on the engine's design the electric turbo motor may only be in on very low revs, or not in at all on idle or just above.

I did. They know that a vehicle will not be idling for long and the battery acts as the buffer.
I know there are lots of things in a modern auto that could be eliminated. But better car bodies is the answer. Insulated and lighter. Much research is going on in this. Car bodies are primitive made of cheap steel steel.

Opposing piston engines are not new and they never gave durability problems. I can't see that this would. Rootes in the UK used this engine in the Commer Truck. Rootes was bought out by Chrysler who dropped the highly efficient engine as it would compete with their existing lines of rather inefficient engines. Duh! Big business wins again.
One crank with two knuckles: http://www.oldengine.org/members/diesel/Rootes-ListerTS3/TS3.htm
The successful Deltic was three cranks forming a triangle, with 6 pistons. http://rowla.dyndns.org/justin/img/piston_deltic320.mpg
In Olny in Buckinghamshire, a small company is making an aero engine design similar to the old British Commer TS3 truck engine, which was based on the Mercedes Benz 1930s aero engine. The opposed piston diesel two stroke is not dead. http://www.dair.co.uk /

The electric clutch may eliminate an auto transmission. The engine will a give far more even torque curve, more power shots per rev, eliminating a transmission in many cars. It may rev high but that can be geared down and no auto gear shifting. I see this engine powering a genny as a range extender as the high revs do not matter, just match the alternator to suit, or operate direct to a driving electric traction motor with a small battery set. I predict that function will be the prime use of IC engines in cars in the near future. Probably sooner than you think. Things are moving and people are demanding change from the 1800s technology. People do think eco these days.
They will have to copy the Volt's hybrid electric motor only traction setup - which is over 100 years old. Lotus have a 4 stroke 3 cyl 1200cc engine specifically for this market - the crank does not need a heavy flywheel when turning an alternator. Chevy wanted one similar and are developing one, but fell back on a stock 4 cyl 1400c engine for the initial Volt, and are still getting 60mpg when running on the engine alone.
The Lotus range extender engine ready for production they say: http://www.grouplotus.net/engineering/home.html
The Wankel is durable for sure. The seals issue is now an urban myth. They perform better at high revs in mpg, which means it is ideal for a range extender. At high revs they are still smooth and quiet. They are also smaller with a superior power/weight ratio, which gives great packaging.

It will succeed for sure.

Here is the Lotus 2-stroke Omnivore engine. They do not have a full cylinder head. Just another piston in the top of the cylinder that moves up and down slightly to vary the compression ratio. Neat. A nice moving graphic to show how it works. Start the engine and move the clocks with the mouse: http://www.autoblog.com/tag/lotusomnivore

That has been around for around 30 years.

An EV is fine for 90% of all car trips made per year. It is the odd long trips, which overall in a country is small, which requires attention - and this keeps advancements down. As I have noted, the range extender in the Volt is giving a claimed ~60mpg not running on the battery.
Note below, "90% charge in less than 5 minutes".
http://www.toshiba.com/ind/data/news/news_241.pdf Toshiba International Corporation, January 27, 2010 - Toshiba proudlyannounces that it has established US-based sales and technical support for its new product, the Super Charge Ion Battery, SCiBT. This nano-based breakthrough lithium technology is noted for its rapid charging capability of 90% charge in less than 5 minutes, long life of more than 10 years even at rapid charge rates, and excellent safety performance. The SCiBT product line will be supported out of the Toshiba International Corporation headquarters in Houston, Texas and the SCiBT team will focus on business development activities, battery pack design, prototyping, assembly, technical support, and service.
The SCiBT battery technology offers numerous performance advantages that make it an ideal solution for many of today's toughest energy storage challenges.
The secret is brake regen and supercapacitors/efficient batteries. Compressed air brake regen would have been feasible, and air is free, but R&D in supercapacitors and batteries may have pushed air into the background for now.
This is the best rotary design on paper. One, round, true, balanced rotor, like an electric motor. Sorting out the seals is not beyond the means of modern engineering R&D. As a range extender it would be ideal. Maybe Bill Gates should put $23 million into this, rather than an engine that first saw light in the 1930s. I think BIll is on the wrong track.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kNJlrbND0U

Back to the Ecomotor, apart from the con-rods it is quite simple. Instead of complex valve gear it removes that and puts in another piston. The pistons have a short travel. The designer explaining:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y8QqeuvArE


That I can believe. The footprint is dependent on many things. 50 years ago it Would have been smaller as the USA would have sourced and made near 100% locally. That should improve as time moves on.
Nice to talk to a thinker.
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http://green.autoblog.com/2010/07/16/avl-introduces-its-own-wankel-rotary-ev-range-extender /
Audi has a Wankel for a range extender. 148.7 mpg (imperial) http://www.autocar.co.uk/blogs/autocarlive/archive/2010/03/03/let-s-have-more-cars-like-the-audi-a1-e-tron.aspx
http://www.audi.co.uk/audi-innovation/concept-cars/a1-e-tron.html
The substitutes its transversely mounted internal combustion engine for an electric motor driving the front wheels.
The 12 kWh battery pack is stored down the floorpan's centre tunnel and under the rear seat. It gives the car a 31-mile range on pure electric drive, which means zero emissions and pollution from the tailpipe.
However, the e-tron, like the Chevy Volt, can also trickle charge its own battery pack using a petrol engine. Which is where Audi have been very clever, utilizing a tiny rotary (or Wankel) engine, which can fit under the boot floor.
With a single rotor and sized at just 254cc, the 20bhp rotary engine runs constantly at an ideal 5000rpm and should be very quiet and very smooth.
Audi also says the whole assembly of Wankel, generator and electronic controls weighs just 70kg. This engine manages to achieve EU5 emissions levels, but Audi is working on getting it to ultra-clean EU6.
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Scribe wrote:

http://green.autoblog.com/2010/07/16/avl-introduces-its-own-wankel-rotary-ev-range-extender/

http://www.autocar.co.uk/blogs/autocarlive/archive/2010/03/03/let-s-have-more-cars-like-the-audi-a1-e-tron.aspx

Obviously, there is no pollution or emmissions from the power plant. It's all pollution-free electricity not made from coal or other fossil fuels.

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Electricity is pollution free at point of burn. Which protects million of lungs in urban areas. It also stops buildings becoming black, as diesel particulates do..
The small Wankel may have found its niche. It is ideal for this application.
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