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1978 Prototype Eldorado had a turbine engine that burned coal

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ELECTRIC-CAR doubters often say that a vehicle like the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, intended to drive most of its miles on batteries charged from the power grid, is effectively powered by coal. While that is a vast oversimplification, it contains a germ of truth: half of the electricity generated in the United States comes from coal-fired power plants.

That is not to say the Volt and a slew of coming plug-in hybrids proposed by General Motors and other automakers will be belching smoke like 19th-century locomotives. Plug-in hybrids charged from the electricity grid may be partly dependent on coal-power sources, but there is no doubt that these battery-powered cars can be cleaner alternatives to a gasoline-burning fleet in urban centers.

Still, the idea of a car actually fueled by coal is not so far-fetched. Three decades ago, G.M. developed a prototype powertrain that consumed coal directly. Installed under the hood of a 1978 Cadillac Eldorado, the engine was truly a coal-burner — using the coal in solid form, not converted to a gas or a liquid — though the fuel was inthe form of a finely ground powder, not chunks the size of golf balls.

[NY Times article]


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Turbine engine: Back in '59-'60 a classmates' dad was a ChryslerPlymouth dealer. The kid always had hot new ride to tool around in. One day he drives to school in one of the Turbine cars Chrysler was touring around the country. Quite a sight. As I recall it was all engine. Looked like an Edsel on steroids and was a dark Coppertone color. It was the sound that made the car! I wonder if any of those cars were saved and still around somewhere?

GM Reman 4.1 engine Dec '08

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Possibly half our electricity is from coal, but about 20% is nuclear, 10% is hydroelectric, and the rest is mostly oil-fired plants. Thus the same case could be made that the Volt is indirectly 20% nuclear powered. My point is that the carbon footprint of the power industry is a separable problem. The carbon footprint of a kWh is important but in the long haul a long-haul estimate of that footprint is more appropriate. A total carbon footprint for the 2010 time frame is appropriate to look at for cars that are delivered to the public in 2010. This isn't likely to be earth-shaking because the operational carbon footprint of an automobile is roughly proportional to miles driven, and none of these cars is going to be driven 15,000 miles a year or more.

There is a lot of controversy lately about "clean coal." Some people have been paying for lots of ads on the WWW and elsewhere that say there's no such thing. Does anyone have any data that would show a difference in the BTUs produced by a ton of carbon from coal as compared to a ton of carbon from oil? If the complaint about clean coal is CO2, that's likely a bit like the pot (e.g. the oil industry) calling the kettle black.

The turbo Chryslers that I remember were in 1961 or 1962, and they are still in a Chrysler museum. I believe that they will still run. The turbine is tiny in the engine compartment, although the styling showed a massive grille and front fenders that looked like engine nacelles on jet fighters.

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There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved. - Ludwig von Mises

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"425 lb-ft of torque at zero rpm!"

LOL....ready! I didn't know Ghia designed the body of the turbine car. I do recall the car being LOUD and the exhaust HOT, but I was in HS then and loud & hot were cool! Didn't much want one then, now I do!! Today I suppose it would need a hellofa EGR system...... :)

GM Reman 4.1 engine Dec '08

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Heres the full story on them:



Wanna cry? Heres the video of them being crushed to avoid the taxes:


Heres Chryslers 1977 turbo prototype:


93 DeVille-13 Chevy Impala

72 GTO - 77 Triumph Bonneville

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Syracuse NY

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I was watching something on TV the other day and a guy got to drive one of those Chrysler turbine cars. It looked pretty cool. They said it was pretty tiny compared to the other cars in the era, about 1/3 the size of the other cars. It would be cool to retrofit one to a Cadillac!

I wonder how exactly those coal powered Eldorados worked. I would guess the smoked a lot.


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