Jay Leno Ecojet

Jay Leno’s Ecojet is a project that’s been two and a half years in the making with the help of his garage mechanics and industry friends. The goal was to build a high performance car powered by a turbine burning soy bean oil based biodiesel. Like engines, turbines turn thermal energy into rotational mechanical energy. Instead of compressing air and fuel for detonation, the expansion of heated air turns a fan-shaped turbine on a rotating shaft. The most common automotive application is a turbocharger that harnesses the thermal energy of exhaust gasses. It’s work is then used to compress fresh air to force into the engine’s cylinders. Turbines are only used for direct mechanical drive in heavy duty applications like tanks, trains, ships and helicopters. They’re a lot more efficient when they can stay spun up at high rpm’s. Piston-cylinder engines are generally more efficient for the stop and go duty cycles seen in cars, but that’s not to say that turbines were never used in cars. Check out this vintage promotional video for Chrysler’s turbine car program from the early 60’s. Jay Leno owns one of the 50 cars that were made available to the public.

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