Thinking Tech

Video: Holy smokes! A jet-powered Batmobile

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The latest Batmobile is the first ever to be powered by a turbine jet engine, making it the superhero vehicle of all superhero vehicles.

Die-hard fans of the Batman comic book series have for years proved their mettle by building and showing off replicas of the iconic Batmobile. But one of them, Casey Putsch, has some serious bragging rights.

That's because his version is the first ever to be powered by a turbine jet engine, making it the superhero vehicle of all superhero vehicles. You wouldn't know by the car's exterior, which comes off like a standard fair replica, but the beast inside the 20-foot long two-seater is indeed a bonafide 365 hp military-grade Boeing turboshaft helicopter motor.

While it can't do neat tricks like transform into a batpod motorcycle a la the Dark Knight movie series, the racecar enthusiast did go to great lengths to make his Batmobile as futuristic as possible. It's a four-speed automatic and comes equipped with visible light spectrum and infra-red cameras, a fire suppression system and the cockpit even has a sliding canopy. And it does includes one upgrade: an iPad for touchscreen access to music, videos and the internet.

Although it may seem like a novel trick, the concept of rigging a standard four-wheeler with a gas turbine engine was actually at one time a fully-viable proposed technology for commercial vehicles. In the 1960's, Chrysler trialed a turbine-powered car that was designed to burn diesel fuel, unleaded gasoline, kerosene, JP-4 jet fuel, and even vegetable oil. Besides being able to run on almost anything, it also had a lot fewer moving parts compared to internal combustion engines and was less affected by extreme weather conditions, meaning drivers wouldn't need to warm up the engine on those extremely frigid days.

One of the downsides was that it often sounded like you were driving a giant vacuum cleaner, though in the comic book universe the noise would be less of an annoyance and more of a testament to one's superhero prowess, like a mountain lion's roar.

Pusch's design still leaves plenty to be desired, however. It can only burn either diesel or kerosene jet fuel. And according to the Batmobile Owner's Manual, published in 2008, the Batmobile's five cylinder engine is supposed to be more powerful than turbine jet engines, with an output somewhere in the 1700 horsepower range.

It won't be easy, but this one can definitely be one-upped (sorry Casey).

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure