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IIT-M start-up designing gas-based engines for trucks

Aerostrovilos Energy a start-up incubated by IIT-M is making gas turbine machines for heavy commercial vehicles (Pic. Courtesy aerostrovilos.com)

With scientists and engineers, world over looking for alternatives for fossil fuels to run cars, trucks and buses, a Chennai-based start-up incubated by Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, is working on making heavy commercial vehicles run with gas turbine generators.

The firm Aerostrovilos Energy is researching on powering electric motors using combustion fuels instead of batteries.

Gas turbines are generally made use of in aerospace engines and what this start-up is doing is making mini versions of these and has developed a patented combustion technology.

What makes this particular engine different is that it can be operated by using varied fuels, including hydrogen and diesel, according to the team at National Centre for Combustion Research and Development located in IIT-Madras campus.

This feature of using varied fuels will make it a viable choice for manufacturers of trucks, egging them to shift from fossil fuels, informed Rohit Grover, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of the company.

As per the website of this start-up, with the rising problem of global warming gas turbines have to be adopted which are the cleanest burning device. These should be able to adapt to a variety of fuels, which could help in creating a net carbon neutral ecosystem with the help of bio-fuels.

Grover went on to add that currently there is confusion and uncertainty as to which fuel will emerge as a dominant one in the mid and long-term for commercial vehicles and the engine made by the start-up could help manufacturers of original equipment adapt. He said there will be a change in the scenario in the future when instead of using either diesel or petrol, usage of multiple fuels will come into being.

The team of developers of this engine from Aerostrovilos said the gas turbine-powered vehicles can increase payload capacity by 15 per cent. Electrification of medium and heavy commercial vehicles faces the challenge of heavier batteries that reduce payload. Additionally, there is a problem of charging infrastructure as well.

A start-up incubated by the Institute with Ashok Leyland is developing a series of hybrid electrical vehicles using this turbine technology. Talks are also on with a global truck manufacturer for the engine.