LONDON — GE is in talks to partner with an Israeli company to develop a steam engine for the next-generation of steam powered vehicles, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The project is expected to be completed by 2020, the sources said.
The steam engine, which could be used to power passenger and commercial vehicles, could also be used in the manufacture of solar cells, according the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the project is private.
The source also said that the steam engine would be used for high-speed passenger and cargo transportation, as well as for power generation.
The sources did not specify what type of steam engine GE might use.
GE declined to comment.
GE announced in June that it was seeking a license to develop advanced steam technology, a project that could eventually lead to a steam-powered vehicle powered by natural gas.
The new steam engine is also expected to improve the performance of GE’s existing steam powertrain by 10 to 15 percent over its current generation.
GE also is seeking a commercial license to build the steam powerplant for the new generation, which would provide up to 10 percent of the company’s fuel supply for use in electric vehicles.
The engine, if built, would be the first to go into commercial service.
The next-gen steam engine could be similar in design to the current-generation GE steam generator, which can produce up to 4,500 horsepower and generates 2.5 tons of steam per square foot.
GE is working with the Israeli company, Israel Energy Technologies, to develop steam power technologies.
GE said in a statement that the company “has had discussions with several potential steam power partners,” including Israel Energy and the American company Aerojet Rocketdyne.
GE has been developing its own advanced steam power technology since the early 2000s.
The company’s steam engine has been used in cars, airplanes, ships, and the global power grid.
The GE steam engine’s design was inspired by the German Bofors gun carriage, which is a design that has long been used to create high-performance steam turbines.