Subject: UFTO Note - JTEC New SolidState Heat to Electricity
Date: Thu, 06 Dec 2001
The Johnson Thermo-Electric Conversion (JTEC) system is a solid state, thermodynamic, energy conversion device that operates on the Ericsson cycle, which is equivalent to the Carnot cycle. It can be configured to operate as either a heat engine (for power production) or a heat pump (for cooling). As a heat engine, the JTEC can use any source of heat, e.g. combustible fuels (external combustion), solar energy, or waste heat. Several proof of concept, component level experiments have been successfully conducted to establish its feasibility.
The JTEC employs fuel cell technology, however, is not a fuel cell. Hydrogen is the working fluid, not the fuel. As a sealed solid state system that generates electricity from heat, it is better compared to thermoelectric converters, but with significantly higher efficiency.
JTEC is at an early development stage, however there is reason to believe progress could be relatively rapid. The company has laid out a multi-year plan, with working prototypes "soon".. Details are closely guarded -- I have executed an NDA and visited the company -- the concept appears to be quite solid.
Texaco has funded the company to do a brief study of commercialization prospects. The company is looking for investors and strategic development partners.
Johnson Electro-Mechanical Systems, LLC (JEMS), is a spinoff of Johnson Research & Development, Atlanta GA, a technology development company involved in a number of areas. Another spinoff, Excellatron, has a licensed lithium thin film battery technology from Oak Ridge National Lab. The founder, Lonnie Johnson, followed a distinguished career in aerospace with the development of the SuperSoaker, one of the best selling toys of all time.
Contact: Lonnie Johnson 770-438-2201
Subject: UFTO Note - Nickel Hydrogen Battery Ready for Commercialization
Date: Wed, 05 Dec 2001
UFTO first reported on this technology almost 6 years ago, and issued
updates in Oct '96 and Jan '98.
UFTO Bulletin #16 December 18, 1995
Nickel Hydrogen Batteries have been used in space for decades, and are known for extreme reliability. Ergenics Inc. has basic patents for a "segmented Ni H battery" concept that should make it practical for terrestial uses. They're building a prototype for ARPA for a military hybrid vehicle, and can make them as small as a laptop computer battery.
It uses metal hydride to store the hydrogen outside the battery cell,
thus eliminating self-discharge, most if not all safety concerns, and heat
transfer issues. Most important, it's low pressure, unlike usual Ni H batteries,
which require a high pressure tank. A key advantage over Ni metal-hydride
batteries is long life because the hydride is isolated from corrosion producing
chemicals of the battery cell. …. The company …
[hasn't] yet focused on applications in UPS and utility storage systems.
This may turn out to be quite competitive with the other forms of storage
that everyone is working so hard on, and it could be an opportunity for
a strategic technology edge. Call me for more info.
Now at long last, a new company, ElectraStor, has licensed the Ergenics
technology, made substantial improvements, and is positioned to manufacture
it, initially in their own pilot production facility. The plan is
then expand manufacturing, and/or to sublicense the technology and manufacturing
know-how worldwide. Originally focused on hybrid vehicle batteries,
ElectraStor is also now addressing applications in stationary electric
power storage, where a convincing case is made for major cost and performance
advantages, particularly in applications requiring high power and quick
Here is a portion of ElectraStor's Executive Summary:
ElectraStor LLC owns a breakthough rechargable low pressure Nickel-Hydrogen "fuel cell battery" technology. This technology has been extensively validated and is ready for commercial production. Serious discussions are ongoing with substantial corporations and government agencies worldwide, including the FTA, Siemens, Fiat, MAN, the Italian government, DaimlerChrysler, Altra, Mercedes EvoBus and others. The Company is raising US$12M to fund a profitable pilot plant, bring the company to profitability, and perform R&D on new products.
Advantages of ElectraStor NiH Batteries: Phenomenal "life of the vehicle" cycle life, zero self-discharge, extraordinary tolerance to overcharge and over-discharge, 100% depth of discharge capability, low cost, low-pressure, high specific power, no maintenance, all-weather operation and a high degree of safety compared to competition. ElectraStor batteries have two to five times the specific power of NiMH and lead acid products and have specific energy comparable to Li-ion and Li-polymer products, while offering far greater tolerance to high mechanical, thermal and electrical stresses.
The Technology: ElectraStor NiH batteries combine a bipolar fuel cell stack with a closed loop supply of low pressure hydrogen stored in a segmented hydride with a limited supply of oxygen stored in a nickel hydroxide, which is regenerated using electricity during recharge. Because it separates hydrogen storage from the wet aspect of the battery, the chemical reaction is only a catalyst and no longer causes degradation of the battery parts, as remains the case in the NiMH design. This enables the ElectraStor battery to be cycled almost indefinitely without degradation or failure.
Intellectual Property: ElectraStor holds an exclusive, worldwide, sub-licensable license to technology developed by Ergenics, together with any and all improvements and extensions to this technology. The patent portfolio is extensive, broad and deep. R&D is ongoing, both by Ergenics and ElectraStor, and further patents are in the immediate pipeline.
Time to Market: The NiH battery is ready for production. ElectraStor has teamed with the FTA and the Belcan Corporation (the largest engineering and technology services organization in Ohio, with revenues over $400M) to construct the pilot plant. The plant will be up and running at full capacity within seven months of funding. The plant's flexible manufacturing line will produce batteries both for electric and hybrid vehicles as well as a variety of further mobile and stationary applications.
Validation of ElectraStor Technology: Testing is ongoing, both by independent third parties and by our Corporate and Government partners, including the City of Pittsburgh, Mass., the Federal Transit Authority (FTA), the Italian Government, Siemens, Fiat, MAN, DaimlerChrysler and others.
(this website will be updated by mid December)
Please contact me for more information and appropriate introductions.
Subject: UFTO Note-Eneco Announces Direct Heat-to-Electricity Device
Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2001
ENECO, a small company in Salt Lake City that we've known for over 5
years, has kept a very low profile until this week, when it burst into
the news with an announcement, jointly with MIT, of a solid state device
that converts heat directly to electricity at higher efficiency than thermoelectric
devices. With considerable luck, they landed a feature article in
Tuesday's NY Times weekly Technology section:
They had given the NY Times a 24 hour head start before issuing a major
press release, to coincide with one from MIT:
The company's own materials released Tuesday can be found at their website:
A technical paper was presented at a poster session Materials Research Society's fall meeting in Boston this week, but copies, and preprints of other papers submitted to major technical journals, won't be available the publications release them.
The technology is said to combine both the thermoelectric effect and the thermionic effect into one device. Electrons boil off the emitter layer on the hot side, adding to the current from the thermoelectric effect. Instead of a vacuum gap, as in standard thermionic devices, there is a semiconductor layer thermally isolating the hot side from the cold side.
They claim to have already demonstrated efficiencies of 17%, compared with 10% which is the best thermoelectrics can do, and at 250-300 C, not the 1100 C that thermionics converters require.
The company very recently hired a new CEO, a veteran of the semiconductor industry. They expect to do a new private offering in the first quarter of 2002.
I have a small investment in the company, and am well acquainted with
the principals. If you would like to make contact I would be pleased to
make a personal introduction.
Subject: UFTO Note - CO,CO2 Removal from reformate H2
Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2001
This press release will be released on Wednesday. It follows an earlier one from Avista that contained some errors. The company, H2fuel, is a spinoff from Unitel and is co-owned by Avista Labs. Unitel is a small technology development company in Chicago with several other developments that we're tracking for UFTO.
I visited Unitel/H2fuel in Chicago recently, and heard a detailed account of this technology under an NDA. They've given me permission to pass the press release along to UFTO, so please hold onto it at least til Thursday.
There is an investment opportunity here.
For Immediate Release, October 31, 2001
Media Contacts: Serge Randhava, H2fuel, 847-297-2265
H2fuel Membrane Program Technical Update
October 31, 2001: In providing additional details about its proposed fuel cell hydrogen membrane program, H2fuel confirmed that the membrane is being tailored to work at temperatures up to 350C, levels that are normally associated with the water gas shift reaction. In a press release issued earlier this month, the company had announced that it had awarded a R&D contract to the University of Kentucky to synthesize, characterize and test a family of chemical transport membranes that can efficiently and selectively remove oxides of carbon from a gas mixture.
The primary objective of the H2fuel membrane program is to eliminate carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide from a reformate gas stream, thereby increasing its hydrogen content and greatly reducing the overall cost of producing pure hydrogen for fuel cell applications.
H2fuel's membrane module is being configured as a dual-role device. To begin with, all the carbon dioxide in the gas stream will be stripped out of the gas mixture. Simultaneously, the carbon monoxide that is present will be converted into carbon dioxide by means of an integrated water gas shift reaction step, following which this coproduced carbon dioxide will also be transferred out by the membrane. For all practical purposes, the H2fuel membrane module will serve to get rid of all the carbon in the gas before it goes to the fuel cell.
The H2fuel membrane is not a conventional permeation platform. Rather, it will use a polymeric membrane that operates at close to atmospheric pressure, and incorporates a unique chemical transport mechanism for attaching and detaching the carbon dioxide molecule.
"Our membrane program is based upon a simple wish list," notes Serge Randhava, President of H2fuel. "First, we want to get rid of the carbon dioxide leaving our primary fuel processor. Second, we want to convert any carbon monoxide in the gas stream into carbon dioxide, and also affect the parallel removal of this secondary compound. At the end of the faucet, we want an enriched fuel cell hydrogen stream that is totally free of all oxides of carbon," he adds.
H2fuel is jointly owned by Avista Labs, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary
of Spokane-based Avista Corp. (NYSE: AVA) and Unitel Fuel Technologies,
LLC, Mt. Prospect, IL.
Subject: UFTO Note - Power Quality 2001
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2001
PowerSystems World 2001, Chicago - Sept 10-12.
As you know, I attended this annual conference held in conjunction with two power electronics conferences, all under the name of PowerSystems World 2001. Overall, the event was poorly organized and confusing to begin with, however, I've learned that a new company is taking over conference operations, so things may improve. More significant, the news on September 11 broke just as the conference was getting underway and had everyone completely distracted, so little was accomplished.
There were a few nuggets to extract, however. The plenary session papers were interesting, and I delved into one or two other issues with company reps on duty at their exhibit booths.
The conference proceedings have been published in a 5 lb. 2" thick hardcover volume, can be ordered for $150 (plus s/h) from Linda McCay, 805-389-6600, firstname.lastname@example.org
Through December, the conference website will provide the agenda and
other conference information: http://www.powersystems.com/
The opening plenary session papers were not provided in the proceedings:
"Power Electronics in Power Systems: Technology and Business"
- Vlatko Vlatkovic, General Electric Corporate R&D
With advent of distributed generation, any source that isn't constant speed synchronized will require significant power conditioning, i.e. "four-leg" converters for fuel cells and microturbines. Such power conversion technology is derived from motor drives using IGBTs (in the 20 KVA to 2.5 MVA range). Large DC systems (100+ MW), e.g., high temperature fuel cells (solid oxide), need conversion from low voltage DC to high voltage AC. Market drivers are strong, but complicated. With utilities' conservatism, it will be hard to make money, and the technology is changing rapidly. Regulation of transmission systems (and the coming RTOs) means limits on ROI.
The Motor Drive Revolution in the Energy Starved Generation
- Dr. Alexander Lidow, International Rectifier
IR sees huge opportunity, and high payback from power management technology.
57% of electricity consumption goes to motors, most of which are controlled
on/off, which is very inefficient. Savings would be substantial if
variable speed drives were used in refrigerators, washing machines and
air conditioners. Barriers include cost, time-to-market, and the
need for multiple engineering skills to apply technologies in analog/digital
(A/D), sensors, power semiconductors, and software control. IR has
developed "Accelerator" architecture development system and a "ChipSet"
to simplify and facilitate the design process.
Tech info: http://www.irf.com/prmU7avc/product-info/motor/
For papers: http://www.irf.com/OxJB7a4c/e/powersys01.htm
Data Center/Facility Infrastructure Design For The Next Millennium
- Neil Rasmussen, American Power Conversion
This paper challenges a number of assumptions about the future power needs of Data Centers. (I have the complete text, which I can forward on request.)
First, an enumeration of the problems driving change:
- Data Center owners get poor ROI on power systems, because they install
much more capacity than they can use, and it sits idle, while capital and
service costs continue.
- Need to standardize and "drive out variability". The industry is full of mythology, and there are limited opportunities for systematic learning. Troubling events are random and rare. Installations are one-off custom designs. (reminiscent of nuclear power plants?)
- Can't predict system requirements. Computer systems become outmoded and are replaced in 2 years, while power systems expected to last for 15 years. That's 7 generations ahead of the loads being served.
- Systems can't adapt to increases or decreases, so installations are grossly oversized.
Then, some predictions:
1. No more raised floors - wiring will be overhead, floor will be a
slab -- cheaper, more secure, air treatment easier to manage, etc.
2. AC will prevail. Need open architecture, so DC will remain limited to inside of closed systems (boxes). Also, adding a new DC drop is expensive.
3. Overloading will occur because power draw of new data equipment varies (2-5 to one) depending on computing activity level, unlike most present-day systems.
4. Instead of focus on total facility loads, discussion will move to "watts/rack", not "watts per sq.ft".
5. Modular scalable systems will replace highly (site-specific) engineered solutions. The whole system will be made with cookie-cutter prefabricated modular scalable systems, designed and delivered "just-in-time".
6. Fast-cycle centers. It now takes 9-18 months to design, purchase, install, and start-up a center. In 2 years, this will drop to 3-6 weeks. This will be accompanied by big changes in the financing and capital structure.
-- In another paper from APC, Chris Thompson outlines overall design issues for data centers, pointing out that redundancy is often put in the wrong place, i.e. at the last step before the load. The lack of training for facility personnel means that human factors play a bigger role than they should.
Power Management -Not an Option
- David Kreiss, Kreiss Johnson Technologies
For most industrial and commercial firms, power is a sizable part of their cost of operations, but many have yet to realize that it can and should be managed. The average CFO sees electricity in particular as the least controllable of all - a fixed cost. This view may have been valid in the past, but there have been big changes in the business and power environments, and now, power procurement is negotiated, in terms of both cost and quality. Savings go straight to the bottom line.
Over 100 technical papers, published in the proceedings, were organized under these headings:
-PQ Solutions, -PQ Battery, -PQ Standards, -Distributed Generation,
-PQ Monitoring, -PQ Distribution, -PQ Harmonic, -PQ Flicker, -PQ UPS, -PQ
(The complete program is available as a download:
"PQ Impacts of Distributed Generation", Roger Dugan, Electrotek Concepts,
(page 190) admitting a "pro-utility" bias, went into some detail on complex
technical issues arising from the placement of DG on a utility distribution
- Fault overcurrent in radial feeders can come from 2 directions; DG must also disconnect.
- Low voltage after interruption- DG needed for voltage support, but can't come back on until the voltage is restored.
- Reclosing, because most faults are temporary, usually done in less than 1 second (many utilities do it "instantly"). If DG doesn't do the same, fault won't clear.
- Transformer connection issues-Wye delta seen as best, but utilities forbid DG to use it, because of grounding dangers.
Engineering solutions can generally be found for these and other technical problems, but there are no simple answers, and there are questions as to who should pay. DG can be used with "no changes" if less than 15% of a feeder load (5-10% if rural).
There were several new technologies for UPS ride-through (i.e., to a standby generator):
- Active Power is developing an Integrated Flywheel Microturbine. The flywheel spins on the same shaft as the turbine rotor, and can provide instant power until fuel is supplied to the microturbine, which then takes over for as long as necessary.
- Precise Power's written pole technology has been used in a flywheel motor/generator for over 10 years, for short term ride through. Can be integrated with an IC engine for long term backup.
- Metallic Power's Zinc-Air system is being applied in a rack mounted
version for use in data centers. Longer ride through (many hours)
at the rack itself avoids reliablity problems of facility based UPS systems
(and the siting and emissions issues for gensets).
Some interesting controversies are evident in the world of lead acid battery systems, regarding monitoring and charge balancing.
Charge balancing, or "equalization"-- we've seen AutoCap previously (UFTO Note - Travel Reports, 29 Oct 2000) proposing a system to float-charge cells individually--don't know how they're doing. PowerDesigners is now promoting its "PowerCheq" modules which interconnect adjacent cells in a string, and uses stronger batteries to top off weaker ones. (www.powerdesigners.com) The problem is that greybeards in the industry insist this is the worse thing you can do! In particular, it will mask a problem with a bad cell until the whole line goes down.
Similar reactions are heard to a novel pulse conditioning method, called ReNew-IT, invented by Pulse Tech Products. They apply a unique waveform pulse train to the battery string, explaining that it clears away sulfation deposits that block plates and decrease life. Apparently the military has taken a hearty interest, but another industry greybeard told me--one should just never never apply AC of any kind to a battery.
Battery monitoring also has ideological splits, e.g. whether resistance, impedance, or conductance is the right thing to measure. Btech (www.btechinc.com) says they're the oldest and best supplier of "battery validation systems" and insist that impedance is the way to go. Their counterparts at Alber say resistance (www.alber.com -- they sponsor an annual conference on the subject). (Both show a long list of prominent clients, with a lot of overlap, e.g. the NY Stock Exchange!) And newer arrivals, Midtronic and Vanner (www.vanner.com) have their views as well.
Serveron, a new entrant, is getting an excellent response from major
customers with its CellSense technology, which answers all the greybeard
concerns and then some. (See 14 May 2001 UFTO Note - On-Line
Transformer and Battery Monitoring). CellSense monitors provide continuous
measurements of all key physical and electrical parameters needed to characterize
the condition of all individual cells as well as the battery system as
a whole. www.serveron.com
(They'll be showing at the IEEE T&D Expo in Atlanta, which opens Oct. 29. I'll be there as well)
Subject: UFTO Note - Investment Bankers Talk Energy Technology
Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2001
As the new-economy/dotcom bubble was hitting it's last high in March 2000, Energy Technology was 3 months into a bubble of its own. Plug Power's IPO the previous Fall did nothing until the fateful day in early January 2000, when an online commentator listed it as one of the 10 stocks to own in the new millenium.
Just a very few bankers had previously started paying attention to ET. See for example "Energy Technology" Nov '99, by Hugh Holman of CIBC World Markets (at the time he was with Robertson Stephens. (see UFTO website). Actually Hugh began covering the power revolution in 1998 with a piece entitled "Rejoice Re: Juice".
Since then just about every major firm has joined the fray, initiating coverage, holding conferences, and issuing reports by the dozens…weekly and monthly newsletters, special research, etc. These reports give terrific insight, and contain a great deal of information and perspective, however they are usually not available to the general public. Clients can get password access via the firm's website. The analysts themselves, however, are often willing to add industry players to their email distribution, and to mail out hard copies. Here is a selection of titles and contacts.
[Several of the firms listed below were very directly
affected by the attack on September 11, and are in the process of regrouping.
Surely they will appreciate your patience if you have trouble making contact,
as we certainly are heartened by their spirit and progress in rebuilding
Bear Stearns -- Bobby Winters, email@example.com
"Distributed Energy Services" --
-Part I - Apr 2000 250 pages. New energy technology, incl. storage, fuel cells, etc.
-Part II - Nov 2000. 240 pages. Comprehensive look at microturbines, stirling, etc.
-Part III (coming soon) - P/Q, reliability, UPS, digital economy, etc.
BofA Securities --
Jim LoGerfo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ali Agha, email@example.com
-E-Energy Industry Overview (ecommerce in energy) Mar 2000, 70 pages
-Energy Technology Industry Overview, Jun 2000, 230 pages
-Alternative Energy Technologies Industry Overview, Jan 2001, 88 pages
-Power of Growth: Energy Technology Weekly
---plus numerous research reports on individual companies
-The Digital Home Handbook ? Intelligence At The Edge Apr 2001, 345
available for download at
CIBC World Markets -- Hugh Holman, firstname.lastname@example.org
(temporary email: email@example.com)
-Daily Jolt (email newsletter)
-"Power Tech-The Juice Runs Low" Sept 2001
latest in long series of industry reports
Credit-Suisse First Boston --
Marko Pencak, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cameron Jeffreys, email@example.com
-Energy Technology: An Overview, Aug 2000, 74 pages
- Fuel Cell Monitor (weekly)
First Albany -- Sanjay_Shrestha@fac.com & Craig_Irwin@fac.com
-Power Technology Weekly
Sam Brothwell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Christine Farkas, email@example.com
-Energy Tech-Europe May 2001, 110 pages
(initiates coverage on sev. European companies)
-iOn Energy Technology (weekly)
Salomon Smith Barney -- Dave Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org
-The Electrical Revolution Jan 2001, 330 pages,
DG and P/Q and digital economy
-Fuel Cells, May 2001, 180 pages
-The Transmission Grid (the "other" problem), Jun 2001, 30 pages
While on the subject of business coverage of energy tech, the Sept 1 issue of Red Herring (Enron on the cover) has another special briefing section on energy. This link may get you to the lead article (be sure to get the whole thing, without a linebreak).
Business Week, Aug 13 issue has a Special Advertising section featuring
an excellent summary of the entire energy situation. It's very well
done, and if you've ever struggled to explain it to your family and friends,
this will help. It is written by Jason Makansi, of Pearl Street Inc.,
who is the former editor in chief of Power magazine.
Follow the headings in the left hand margin to step through the sections.
Subject: UFTO Note - EPRI Distributed Resources Venture Forum
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001
-- Business Venture Forum for Emerging Distributed Resources Technology
Companies, Investors, and Market Channels
-- 7/25/2001 - 7/26/2001
Agenda download is still available:
EPRIsolutions' Second Annual Business Forum was designed to bring together leading Distributed Resource (DR) technology companies, the energy utility industry, and energy industry investors for the exchange of information related to business and investment opportunities. The Forum was structured as a venture fair with 15-minute presentations from 13 leading DR companies, followed by an afternoon of "breakout" sessions, for small group/individual meetings with the company representatives.
EPRI will issue a CD with all the presentations. Most were provided in hard copy in a binder. Additional company materials were selectively provided at the breakout sessions.
We've seen a number of the presenting companies before, as they've appeared at other similar events over the last couple of years. Side conversations also led to some interesting additional leads.
These notes are intentionally brief. If you're interested in contacts
or more details for any of these companies, let me know.
--- COMPANIES ---
Dais Analytic - yet another small company pushing PEM. Distinctions
include "great" reformer technology, about which nothing was disclosed,
and a proprietary membrane material. The membrane is the subject of a major
JV with a major chemical company (unnamed), and holds great promise in
an air-to-air heat exchanger, MERV, which exchanges not only heat, but
also water vapor. MERV greatly reduces heating and A/C loads by preconditioning
incoming fresh air. This company's "dual" play is either appealing or not,
depending on your investment philosophy (and your view of PEM's prospects).
MERV appears to offer prospect of early real revenues while awaiting PEM
to ripen. On the other hand, it's two different businesses, which can be
hard for a small company to do effectively.
Candent Technologies - a brand new stealth (til now) arrival on the microturbine front. Very experienced personnel coming out of Rolls Royce, (which decided not to do a microturbine) take a different design approach, and will target a 750 KW unit size, eventually as low as $350/KW. They specifically are avoiding the use of recuperators, as expensive and unreliable, and will use a high pressure spool instead. No new technology is involved, so they're projecting a rapid development, direct to beta pre-production stage, skipping a prototype. Looking for $3 Million now, and $20 M in another round following demonstration.
PEPCo Technologies - GenerLink. Spinoff of PEPCo, selling an standby
generator interface for homeowners. Said they have 2 investors that are
going ahead (one is strategic, the other a VC). I have to agree with what
I heard most people say-- it's hard to imagine there are very many people
who would want this.
Pentadyne Power Corp. High speed flywheel, continuing development work
by Rosen Motors. Targeting high power/short duration ride-through application.
First units will be 120 KW for 20 seconds. Novel approach to safety containment
using double shell with liquid in-between (originally conceived for onboard
vehicle use, where heavy shielding is not possible). Claim very low standby
loss/idling load, and low cost once in large quantity production.
Powerco US/Ocean Power -- a new private marketing arm, formed as subsidiary to Ocean Power (NASDAQ PWRE). Initial focus on small stirling engine they acquired in Norway, but parent company has too many breakthrough technologies in its arsenal to believe, ranging from diesel CHP, dish PV, fuel cells…and they didn't even mention desalination, another area they claim to have cornered. http://www.powerco.com/
Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd -- Solid Oxide FC contender in Australia that appears quite credible. In the breakout session they showed a new all-ceramic stack configuration that is looking very promising. Market entry product is a 40 KW generator, to operate on straight methane (SOFC is autoreforming, so no fuel processor needed). http://www.cfcl.com.au/content.htm
BCS Technology -- a tiny company from Texas, founded 1990, with "self-humidified" PEM fuel cell stacks and MEAs. They've sold over 100 small stacks.
ALM Turbine -- This company looked overly ambitious when they started raising money 1-2 years ago, but they say their progress is on track. Their first engine is just about ready for tests, and preliminary emissions data for their burner technology is promising. Their engine is completely scalable in size, from 25-350 KW, and they claim high efficiency, and high part load performance. Design relies heavily on exhaust gas recirculation. http://www.almturbine.com
Sixth Dimension -- Until recently, it was difficult to understand what
this company did, but they're doing better at explaining it now. They're
a "network operating system" for communicating with any/all types, brands
etc of energy producing, consuming and monitoring devices, e.g. meters,
gensets, building control systems, energy analytics systems, etc. They
put a "gateway" box on site which they call "Embedded Site Server", to
which 16 devices can be connected. Each device gets a smaller box called
the "Power Tone Adapter" which can be outside or inside the device. The
system of proprietary hardware and software makes possible all manner of
clever monitoring and control functions. This sounds like what Encorp says,
but they say Encorp can only do these things if you have Encorp switchgear.
6th is far more equipment-agnostic.
Alternative Designs Inc -- ADI has unique stirling engine technology enabling operation at much higher temperatures, attaining efficiencies of 50% and greater. Other enhancements include an advanced regenerator, and simplified heater head design, leading to big cost reductions and higher reliability. [I am an advisor to this company.]
DayStar Technologies -- Unique PV cell technology. Company first developed
a "flat-plate concentrator" technology that was clever and intriguing,
but would require extensive capital development. DayStar is now focused
primarily on their own cadmium-telluride "thin-film-on-metals" solar cells.
The cells are manufactured in sheets, which can be used whole, or cut into
cells which can be a direct "replacement" for Si cells, at half the cost.
Rolls Royce -- as noted above, RR decided not to pursue a microturbine development, despite having invested quite a bit of money in it. Instead, they're going for a special purpose turbine to be combined with their own planar SOFC. Program began in 1992. This 1 MW hybrid is to be ready by 2005. RR will fund most of the program internally, but will seek strategic partners for funding, and technical/marketing support, leading to a possible spinoff company.
Vanteck(VRB) Technology Corp. -- (public company, CNDX symbol VRB )
commercializing the vanadium redox battery technology, and in particular
VESS, for Vanadium Energy Storage Systems. The company is in the midst
of straightening out a particularly messy history of corporate ownership
of IP and market rights, but assuming that can be done, are focusing on
the US market. This is flow-battery has some uniquely attractive features,
including high round trip efficiency, and freedom to size a system's power
(KW) and capacity (KWH) separately (either aspect can be added to over
time). In concept, this is very similar to the Regenesys battery, but with
different chemistry, and targeted at smaller systems. The first commercial
installation outside Japan is starting up now -- a 250 KW/ 520KWH unit
at ESKOM, in South Africa.
UFTO Note-Small Modular Biopower System
Date: 02 Aug 2001
Beginning in 1999, Community Power Corp (CPC) joined with NREL and Shell Renewables to develop a new generation of small modular biopower systems (SMB), designed to replace conventional diesel generators and to free communities from dependence on diesel fuel, with its high cost and environmental damage.
CPC's fully automated SMB system can use a variety of biomass fuels to generate electricity and thermal energy for rural communities, enterprises and social services, and usually solving a agricultural residue disposal problem at the same time. The initial prototype SMB, rated at 12 1/2 kWe, is performing well in a Philippine village, since it's commissioning on 2 April 2001.
With support from the Calif Energy Commission, CPC is now installing a second SMB on the Hoopa Valley Indian Tribe reservation in northern California. Fueled with forest residue, the unit will supply heat and power to a greenhouse, and CO2 enriched exhaust gases will also aid plant growth.
CPC's advanced design, downdraft gasifier with fully integrated and automatic controls, produces an extremely clean combustible gas from a variety of woody fuels. The "producer" gas is conditioned and fed into a standard internal combustion engine genset for conversion to mechanical, electrical, and thermal power. Future systems will be adapted to SOFC fuel cells, microturbines, stirling and other IC engines.
Specifications and Features
- Combined heat and power operation for rural electrification and distributed generation applications;
- Environmentally friendly, non-condensing system without scrubbers, effluents or hazardous wastes;
- Fully automatic, closed-loop control of all components including gasifier, gas conditioning and genset;
- Dispatchable power within one minute of auto-startup ? uses no diesel fuel or gasoline;
- Fuel flexible: wood pellets, coconut shells, wood chips, corn cobs, palm nut shells;
- Electrical output in blocks from 5kWe to 25kWe; 120 and 240 VAC; 50 and 60 Hz;
- Modular, transportable, no need for on-site buildings or waste water disposal, 1 day installation.
Remarkably, Community Power actually first identified a market and need, and then developed SMB as the technology to meet it, rather than the other way around. The founders were experienced in the electrification of offgrid communities using conventional renewable energy technologies (PV, wind).
To serve this large, demanding market, (over 4 million communities) CPC specified a system that was sized for the typical un-electrified community; automated to prevent reliance on unskilled operators; mobile to facilitate easy installation and relocation; able to operate without the co-mixing of any fossil fuels; modular and scalable; and perhaps most importantly, one that met stringent environmental requirements with no liquid effluents or toxic wastes.
Worldwide, millions of potential customers annually dispose of billions of tons of forest and agricultural residues through burning or dumping, generating both air pollution and green house gases. Where these consumers have a sustainable source of biomass residue and where fossil fuel is either very expensive or not readily available, the SMB can be the lowest cost and greenest solution.
(A point that's often missed in thinking about 3rd world village power-- a large fraction of these communities do have currency, and already spend too much of it on energy, as currently their only choices are diesel or lead-acid batteries carried to distant charging stations--both of which are expensive and dirty. These communities can afford, and will welcome, to pay for a cheaper better local source of power.)
The company website has a great deal more information:
A recent slide presentation can be found at:
Contact: Robb R. Walt
email@example.com 303- 933-3135
Community Power Corp., Littleton, Co
There was a recent article in the Far Eastern Economic Review regarding CPC and the use of coconuts as fuel for their small modular bipower system that has been installed in the village of Alaminos in the Phillipines.
( 1 Aug email from Walt Robb, one of the founders)
Big news: Due to our efforts, by the end of September the DOE and US
Forest Service will provide CPC with a non-competitive "Phase 3" add-on
to our current SMB contract. The add-on will total $3.2 million over 2
1/2 years. We must secure $1.2 million of the $3.2 as cost share (38%).
The cost share can come from multiple sources. Already, we have been contacted/visited
by firms interested in the possibility of leveraging these funds.
1. We have won two SBIR's
2. California Energy Commission has specifically stated they are ready to give us a significant add-on to scale-up our SMB platform to 50 kW and conduct many more demos in California
3. The US Army has expressed interest in our 25kW SMB and 5 kW micro-modular biomass hybrid power system for their "Zero Foot Print Camp" program
4. A Massachusetts company has proposed a $350,000 demo in the state with state funding
5. The new trailer-mounted SMB for Hoopa is exceeding all of our expectations.
6. Art is back from vacation at Deep Creek Lake and didn't catch any fish.
Subject: UFTO Note- Hologram PV Windows
Date: Mon, 09 Jul 2001
UFTO Note- Hologram PV windows
A novel approach to solar PV has been quietly hatching in Tucson for a number of years. I've been on their trail since early '98, but until very recently they were in strict stealth-mode, and it was impossible to get a handle on what they were doing. (It was refreshing to see a startup that understood the benefits of laying low until they have something to show.)
TerraSun's patent issued quietly in March '99 (# 5,877,874), and then in mid May of this year, they did a press release and launched an effort to raise money and identify potential customers and strategic partners (suppliers and sales channels). The company has been funded up to now by part-owner Apogee Enterprises (nasdaq APOG), an $800 million major manufacturer of architectural window products (www.apog.com).
Their PV technology uses holographic optics to concentrate light onto standard silicon cells. Imagine a multi-layer window pane with solar cells arrayed across it in long bands, leaving clear spaces inbetween. If a band of cells is 1" wide, then the clear space would be from 1" to 4" wide. A holographic film, sandwiched between layers of glass, directs the incoming light into the solar cells. Solar concentration ratios of 1.5 have already been demonstrated, and the company believes they can reach ratios of 4-5.
There are several implications. One, as with any concentration scheme, less area of silicon is needed, which presumably lowers cost. Two, the wavelengths of light directed into the cell can be optimized. Three, the window remains transparent, allowing the passage of light, ideal, for example, for skylights. Four, the wavelengths of this transmitted light can be tuned, for example to reject heat. TerraSun has coined a term "Power Window" to describe a product which produces on peak electricity, while allowing the passage of daylight. (The company estimates this approach will be competitive with the various semi-transparent thin-film PV approaches that others are developing.)
With the growing interest in BIPV (building integrated PV), and energy efficiency in general (e.g. low emissivity coatings for windows), TerraSun expects to exploit huge opportunities not only in PV, but eventually in other applications of holographic optics as well. They see energy as perhaps only the first area of application for holographic optics, which is the company's real strength. (Using holograms as optical devices is a relatively new and little-known idea. In effect, holograms can be made to act as lenses, mirrors, filters, etc., processing light instead of just recording images.)
The company's website is http://www.terrasun.com. Much more information is available from the company, in particular, a confidential business plan.
Glenn Rosenberg, 520-512-1995 firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: UFTO Note - On-Line Transformer and Battery Monitoring
Date: Mon, 14 May 2001
UFTO Note - On-Line Transformer and Battery Monitoring
Serveron Corp. launched itself in February as the industry's first provider
of full time monitoring services for T&D equipment. Starting
with the gas-in-oil sensors developed by a predecessor company, Micromonitors,
Serveron offers a complete solution, from instrumentation, to on-line monitoring,
to (condition-based) maintenance scheduling and asset management, to risk
management. The company also has comprehensive monitoring technology
for station battery systems. The complete suite of applications also covers
tap changers, arresters, bushings and breakers.
Large Power Transformers:
Note some alarming facts about the T&D infrastructure, and large transformers in particular. The fleet is "graying" -- the average age of units now in use is 35 years. Hartford Steam Boiler has data showing an exponential increase in serious failures: 1% of large transformers (1,000 transformers in the US alone) will fail this year, and the failure rate will rise to 2% by 2008.
The average cost of such a unit is $2-3 million and lead time for new ones can exceed a year or more, so a major failure has very significant implications. An early target -- powerplant step-up transformers. Any event that could take part or all of a plant's capacity off-line for a long time becomes even more crucial in today's climate.
In addition, major savings can be realized with true condition-based maintenance. Since monitoring and diagnostics have not been readily available or cost-effective, utilities now perform maintenance on arbitrary schedules, but estimates are that 30% to 50% of that work is unnecessary. Finally, capital equipment replacements can be prioritized and scheduled in ways that specifically minimize physical and financial risk.
Serveron's TrueGas™ analyzers monitor the levels of volatile dissolved gases in the insulating oil in large transformers and other oil-filled equipment. Over the life of a transformer, fault gases form due to the degradation of the insulating materials or from the presence of thermal or electrical faults. The type and concentration of these gases are primary indicators of transformer condition and types of faults.
TrueGas analyzers are the only instruments available today that detect and separately analyze trace levels of all eight fault gases. Other instruments detect only a subset of these gases or provide only combined gas data that may not accurately predict equipment failures.
Since serious problems evidence themselves only hours to days before a failure, realtime online measurements and analysis are critical. Test procedures that involve the periodic drawing of samples and sending them to a lab just can't do the job.
Serveron's on-site equipment and Web-based analysis software provide continuous monitoring during actual operations, and thus early identification of transformer conditions that require maintenance or that could lead to catastrophic failure of the equipment.
The company will also integrate other sensor data into the system, such
as electrical, thermal and mechanical (e.g. acoustic/vibration) parameters.
All power plants and T&D substations have large banks of batteries which provide back-up power required for startup and for graceful shut down in the event of an unplanned outage or equipment failure. There can be 50 to 70 truck-battery-sized cells in each bank, for a total of tens of thousands of individual battery cells in an average utility, at hundreds of remote locations. Inspection and maintenance is a major cost, as these systems must function when called upon. (In nuclear plants, they also have to be available, or the plant may have to shut down.)
Serveron's CellSense™ monitors provide continuous measurements of all key physical and electrical parameters needed to characterize the condition of all individual cells as well as the battery system as a whole. CellSense™ instruments monitor the batteries on-site, and graphical data can be viewed from any remote location using a common browser to access Serveron's secure web site. With CellSense™ monitoring, battery maintenance and inspection can be reduced from a monthly to an annual activity.
I have a company powerpoint presentation (400kb) that I can send on request, and more information is available on the company's website:
Contact: Jim Moon, CEO 541-330-2350 email@example.com
UFTO Note - Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PMBR)
Date: Fri, 11 May 2001
UFTO Note - Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PMBR)
The press has recently carried a number of stories about the potential
resurgence of nuclear power as an option to deal with both generation shortages
and global climate/emissions concerns. Most recently, of course,
the Vice-President has raised it.
[e.g., Boston Globe, 11 Feb; Business Week, 23 Apr; WSJ, 2 May -- I have copies]
One of the more remarkable "new" technologies mentioned is the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PMBR), actually an old idea. In the heyday of reactor development, helium gas cooled designs were pursued by the U.S. (using a fuel block concept) and by the Germans, who used a "pebble" fuel configuration. The US program fell apart in the mid-90's, though General Atomics kept pushing it as a means to burn up Soviet plutonium stockpiles. The Japanese and Chinese also continue to have programs, each with operating developmental reactors.
While the Germans dropped their program, their pebble idea later took hold with research in China and Indonesia, and finally in South Africa, where the story picks up speed. Eskom, the huge utility there, faced serious pollution problems with bad coal, and they needed smaller power plants that could be located near the coast, closer to population centers. The country also wanted to create high tech industry and jobs.
Eskom set up a new venture called PBMR (Pty) Ltd, and attracted development
funds from the their government, British Nuclear Fuel (BNFL), and Exelon.
Industrial Development Corp of S. Africa (IDC) 25%
(the remaining 10% is reserved for black empowerment investment)
What is PBMR? From the company's website:
"The PBMR is a helium-cooled, graphite-moderated high temperature reactor (HTR).
The PBMR consists of a vertical steel pressure vessel, 6m (19,7 ft) in diameter and about 20m (65 ft) high. It is lined with a 100cm (39 inch) thick layer of graphite bricks, which serves as a reflector and a passive heat transfer medium. The graphite brick lining is drilled with vertical holes to house the control rods.
The PBMR uses silicon carbide and pyrolitic carbon coated particles of enriched uranium oxide encased in graphite to form a fuel sphere or pebble about the size of a billiard ball. Helium is used as the coolant and energy transfer medium to a closed cycle gas turbine and generator system. When fully loaded, the core would contain 330 000 fuel spheres and 110 000 pure graphite spheres. The latter serve as an additional nuclear moderator."
A major appeal is the inherent passive safety of the design. From the website:
"How safe is the PBMR? The PBMR is based on a simple design, with passive safety features that require no human intervention and that cannot be bypassed or rendered ineffective in any way. In all existing power reactors, safety objectives are achieved by means of custom-engineered, active safety systems. In contrast, the Pebble Modular Reactor (PBMR) is inherently safe as a result of the design, the materials used, the fuel and the physics involved. This means that, should a worst case scenario occur, no human intervention is required in the short or medium term."
Another is "modularity", at a scale of ~100 MW. Also, without the huge burden of auxiliary systems and containment, it should be relatively cheap to build.
The website is very comprehensive, so no need to try to paraphrase it
Questions remain, of course. The fuel elements must be well made, and the problem of spent fuel disposal is still hugely unresolved, especially in the US. On the regulatory front, the NRC is being urged to move rapidly to develop a new unique set of licensing criteria that would be appropriate for this inherently safe design, as the old framework simply doesn't apply. One has to wonder, though, if not-invented-here will hinder progress in the US.
Here's an Feb 2001 NRC "Fact Sheet" about the many different "next-generation
reactors" on their plate:
The DOE Office of Nuclear Energy has it's Generation IV Initiative, which seems to be taking the view that certification (much less deployment) of some yet-unidentified new small modular reactor technology won't happen til 2030. A two-year "Roadmap" effort was announced last November. Argonne and Idaho are the lead labs in the program. http://gen-iv.ne.doe.gov http://www.ne.doe.gov/
Exelon has started the process of education in Washington and around
the country. See their congressional testimony available on the Nuclear
Energy Institute's website:
Meanwhile, in March PBMR let a contract for the design of the fuel fabrication
Contact: Ward Sproat, Exelon Nuclear
Subject: UFTO Note - RAMGEN Update
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2001
This is an update on a previous UFTO Note (see below).
Progress is good. The first machine is hooked to a 10 MW generator, and it's doing better and better all the time. They're also working hard on a 800 KW version, which will enable them to advance the technology faster, and which is size they believe the DG market wants. The disk on the new machine will be 32 inches, operating at 28,000 rpm. Efficiency is 40%, and they expect single-digit NOx.
The company was featured two weeks ago in an article in the Puget Sound Business Journal, available on the company's website: http://www.ramgen.com/2000/news.htm
A core group of local investors has been more than willing to provide as much money as needed, so there hasn't been other corporate or VC participation in the past. Now, however, the company has decided to engage CSFB to do a $30 Million formal private offering for them.
For information, contact:
Bill Craver, Credit Suisse First Boston, San Francisco
On request, he can send you "Prelim. Information Materials" (aka the "teaser")
The RAMGEN Engine [UFTO Note - Ramgen Engine 03 Mar 1999]
The Ramgen engine is based on the ramjet, the earliest form of jet engine and one still used on missiles. A ram jet gets its thrust from burning fuel in air compressed by its forward motion, then expelling the exhaust to create a forward force.
In the Ramgen engine, two ramjet thrust modules are mounted opposite each other at the perimeter of a 6 foot diameter rotor, in a kind of pinwheel configuration. The rim speed exceeds Mach 2.5. The engine's axle then drives a generator through a gearbox.
Ramgen Power Systems, Inc. (WA) has just begun full testing of a full scale prototype, following ten years of work by its inventor, and the infusion 2 years ago of over $6 million from private investors. On February 2, 1999, the engine was the successfully ignited for the first time. It is currently generating compression at or above projected values; it is starting reliably and is creating combustion and power as anticipated; it is maintaining combustion after ignition; and the air film and other cooling systems are functioning effectively at current fuel loads.
The magnitude of the centrifugal forces generated at these speeds requires advanced, high-performance materials, which have only recently become commercially available (i.e. declassified), as have the computer modeling and machining techniques to manufacture the rotor to required tolerances. While sophisticated in design and modeling, the Ramgen has only a single moving part, the rotor and axle. It is designed to be maintained and work reliably in developing countries and isolated areas.
The Ramgen engine is a Brayton cycle engine that uses compressible gas dynamic phenomena and replaces the mechanical compression and expansion systems of conventional combustion engines with oblique shock wave and supersonic processes. In the Ramgen engine, the fuel and air mixture is compressed as it enters the thrust module, thereby removing the need to mechanically compress either the fuel or the combustion air. The engine's burner operates on lean premix combustion to minimize NOx formation.
US Patent No 5709076 was awarded on Jan 20, 1999, and others are pending.
The performance of the Ramgen engine results from its efficient compression
and expansion of the air/fuel mix within the thrust modules. The Ramgen
engine's inherently simpler design makes it less expensive to construct,
operate and maintain than competing systems for electric power generation.
The company anticipates that Ramgen will have:
- $400-450/KW capital cost (excluding site/development costs)
- 40-50% simple cycle efficiency
- around 2% efficiency loss down to 20% part-load
- very low emissions (NOx below 5 ppm)
- ability to operate on a wide range of fuels
(including oilfield and platform flare gases,
or caustic gases as low as 4% fuel by volume)
- small footprint (8-10 MW engine fits on a standard truck trailer)
With cooling by water-jacket and supercooled air, parts experience temperatures around 300 deg F. The exhaust is at 1230 deg.F, enabling combined cycle or cogen applications.
The prototype currently operating at a test facility in Tacoma, WA,
can be configured to produce up to 15 MW. The company believes that the
Ramgen engine can be scaled to produce electrical output ranging from 1
to 40 MW. The first commercial units (in the 8-15 MW range) could be available
by early 2001. The company is in the process of finalizing additional financing.
Doug Jewett, President and CEO firstname.lastname@example.org
Glenn Smith, VP Sales & Marketing email@example.com
RAMGEN Power Systems, Bellevue, WA 425-828-4919
Company website: http://www.ramgen.com
UFTO Note - Fluid Dialysis Makes Oils Cleaner Than New
Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001
UFTO Note - Fluid Dialysis Makes Oils Cleaner Than New
I first became aware of this possibility a number of years ago, and
was completely convinced of its dramatic potential then. Now, a company
has emerged which is apparently demonstrated and proven the technology
in a number of applications, and which has formulated a well considered
business strategy to prioritize and pursue the incredible number of markets
and applications that are available to them. The material below is
taken directly from the company's extensive website. I also
have an executive summary of their business plan which I can provide on
MAG SYSTEMS, Inc. http:// www.magcleanoil.com
Contact Bill Crossman, CEO firstname.lastname@example.org Tel 203-272-5366
MAG Systems has developed and patented a unique technology known as Electronic Fluid Dialysis TM (EFD). This process is capable of purifying non-conducting fluids to a much higher level of purity than conventional methods of filtration and purification. It restores the properties of these fluids to a "better than new" condition, by removing particles down to the sub-micron level.
Non-conducting fluids include many different types of fluids that are used for a broad range of applications. - Lubricating Oil - Insulating Oil - Diesel Fuel - Heating Oil - Jet Fuel - Machining Oils - Refrigerants - Hydraulic Oil - Heat Transfer Glycol - EDM Oil - De-Ionized Water - EHC Fluid - De-Mineralized Water - CBN Oil - Cooking Oil - Transmission Oil - Petrochemicals - Brake Fluid - Resin - Coolants - Some low-conducting fluids - Castor Oil - All other non-conducting fluids - Cutting Oil
As these oils become dirty and contaminated, they cease to be effective and must be replaced. Even the most expensive filtration systems can only extend the usefulness of these fluids for a limited period of time. MAG SystemsÕ EFD technology is able to keep these fluids like new, year after year, without replacement. In addition, the EFD process actually "pulls" small particles of dirt and contamination from inside the machinery, enabling the equipment to operate more efficiently and reliably. This significantly reduces maintenance and repair costs and equipment downtime and extends the service life of the equipment.
MAG Applications for Electric Utilities
PROBLEM: Lubricating oil must be kept as clean as possible to reduce equipment breakdown and extend the life of the equipment. The cleaner, the better! Particles in the oil can cause severe abrasion and damage to power generation equipment. Particles five microns and smaller have been conclusively shown to be the major cause of abrasive wear that leads to component failure, unscheduled downtime and costly repairs of mechanical components. Also, the environmental impact of disposal of waste oil is an increasing concern.
SOLUTION: MAG units purify dirty, contaminated lubricating oil to cleaner than new condition and then maintain that purity year after year without replacing the oil. The process removes particles down to one-tenth micron and smaller. Furthermore, it cleans the internals of the equipment by literally "pulling" microscopic particles out of crevices in the machinery. This dramatically reduces machine downtime and maintenance costs and extends equipment life. Unlike other filtration methods, MAG's EFD process will remove sludge, varnish, gum, pollen, soot and bacteria from the fluid. It will operate in the presence of water and will not affect additives. Customers typically achieve investment payback in less than six months, and the environmental impact of waste oil disposal is virtually eliminated.
[Note- The plant manager of the major US pharmaceutical company that has 4 large GE turbines at one of their sites has stated the following: "For 15 years we averaged one oil-related outage every eighteen months on our steam turbines. Since the MAG purification systems were installed five years ago, we have had no oil-related issues whatsoever." GE engineers can validate the effectiveness not only in purifying the oil, but also in cleaning turbine internals.]
[Note- Based on their engineering due diligence, Hartford Steam Boiler is not only satisfied that MAG units do in fact remove nearly all particles as claimed, but they have also agreed to extend required overhaul frequencies by 50% on turbines that use MAG fluid purification.]
PROBLEM: Insulating oil is used to create insulation between electrical components and remove heat in equipment such as transformers, switches, tap changers and circuit breakers. Degradation due to localized overheating produces products of oxidation and carbon. Coke, water and products of oxidation result in a loss of insulating properties and, if not detected, catastrophic failure will occur.
SOLUTION- MAG removes products of oxidation, carbon and water and maintains dielectric strength above new oil specifications. All components within the enclosure achieve a cleaner than new condition which minimizes deterioration and maintenance and leads to extended life of the equipment. Sampling and maintenance can routinely be extended by a factor of 4 to 8 times.
PROBLEM: When diesel fuel is consumed, various pollutants are released. These include Nitrous Oxide (NOx), Sulfur Oxides (SOx), heavy metals and particulate matter (soot and ash). When diesel fuel is stored for long periods of time additional problems occur. The levels of particulate matter in the fuel can increase from corrosion of the storage tank, etc., and the water content can increase from condensation. When water is present, bacterial growth is enhanced which clogs filters, nozzles and other small openings.
SOLUTION: MAG units can substantially reduce the levels of particulate
and heavy metals emissions. Tests are currently underway to evaluate the
degree to which MAG purification of diesel fuel can reduce NOx and SOx
emissions. MAG Systems can also remove water from the fuel, which minimizes
the potential for bacterial growth, and existing bacteria is removed. This
not only reduces air pollution but also assures that emergency fuel will
be usable when it is needed.
Subject: UFTO Note - Zero Emission Engine
Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001
UFTO Note - Zero Emission Engine
At the risk of "excess exuberance" ...this looks like something that could change everything -- a zero emission, fuel flexible-- *steam engine*.
I first heard of them from announcements back in May 2000, and have finally been able to make contact, just in time to learn about the new company they've set up. They're showcasing at the SAE conf (Soc. of Auto Engineers) in Detroit this week. My contact is Oliver Mehler, who's heading the operation in the US.
I have the executive summary of their business plan, which seeks to raise 22 million Euros over the next four years.. The full 60 pg plan is now only in German, and they are preparing an English version.
The management team is in Detroit this week (only Oliver is stationed in the US). If you have anyone attending the SAE conference, you may want to have them visit the booth.
I asked what was different about this steam engine, and Oliver described a visit to a major US engine manufacturer. It was scheduled for 1 person for 45 minutes, and wound up with 12 people for 3 hours. They said "we tried (and failed) --you solved all the problems which stopped us" (e.g. lubrication materials, isothermal expansion, quick load changes, good combustion system). The website has neat pictures of their 6 kw APU prototype, which they estimate will be made for a cost of $700, in volumes of 10,000/yr. They are talking to corporations, financiers and VCs to raise money. They want manufacturing partners.
http://www.enginion.com -- go to "Press" for the complete press release
(excerpts below) and a pdf download brochure about the APU. I've also got
a 12 page technical article from a year ago that explains the thermodynamics.
Oliver C. Mehler, Ann Arbor, MI
734-971-1070 ext. 111 email@example.com
Note- IAV is a major European automotive engineering company, 50% owned
by VW. Enginion is spinning off with most of the development team that
worked on the project. Since public (EU) funding was involved, it was deemed
inappropriate for VW to have it to themselves.
Enginion AG Says New Engine is 'Cleaner Than the Air we Breathe'
'Zero Emission Engine' Debuts at SAE World Congress In Detroit
ANN ARBOR, Mich., Feb. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Enginion AG, a technology provider for the automotive and energy industry plans to demonstrate an 'Equal Zero Emission Engine' (Ezee) at next week's SAE World Congress in Detroit. The new technology does not require any catalysts. The Ezee uses external combustion that is based on a patented 'Caloric Porous Structure Cell' (CPS Cell), utilizing a newly developed thermo-chemical combustion reaction, which drives an electronically controlled, oil free thermal engine.
The technology has been developed with funding by the European Union as well as various institutions of the German government. It took six years and nearly one million man-hours of basic research to reach the stage of development presented at SAE. "The new drive appears to have the potential of substituting conventional combustion engines," said Michael Hoetger, President of Enginion. "Its emissions profile is among the lowest of any existing combustion technology. At the same time its production price is expected to be equal or lower than current powertrains." The technology incorporates the following benefits:
- Lowest pollutant emissions (no HC; NOx and CO at the limit of
measurability) No exhaust after-treatment needed
- Very high torque (5 times higher than regular Otto-cycle engines);
power output and dynamics are equivalent to diesel engines
- Fuel flexibility (gasoline, diesel, natural gas,
biofuels, hydrogen, etc.)
- Thermal and kinetic energy (both variable)
- High efficiency (better than gasoline engines,
according to U.S. FTP75 test cycle)
- Almost silent and vibration free
- Compact size
- Oil free; operation in ecologically sensitive areas possible
- Lower cost than existing technologies
Based on the encouraging research results, Hoetger and his colleagues initially plan to develop small Auxiliary Power Units (APU), as the fuel flexible and compact technology can deliver variable heat and electricity over a broad power range. The areas of application stretch from mobile use in vehicles to stationary operation in residential and industrial environments.
Enginion's Ezee technology is further suited to build up stationary distributed power systems. With its co-generation capabilities (heat and electricity) it could deliver clean energy for residential as well as commercial purposes. In one of the largest market segments with heat outputs of up to 30 kW and a maximum electricity of 10 kW, the Ezee APU might be up to 90% cheaper than other solutions, including fuel cells and gas turbines. The APU's electronic control shall additionally be equipped with networking capabilities for the development of small-scale local grids.
Enginion plans to stay focused on research and development rather than
becoming an engine producer themselves. Instead, they want to offer partnerships
to professional manufacturers. "With our technology and product development
skills we would develop the Ezee products ready for application" Hoetger
summarized. "The production partners pay only a few dollars per unit for
the production license. This way they can independently set their profit
margins and use own distribution channels without our interference. But
I think it might take quite a number of manufacturers in the long term.
All studies we found indicated that the potential markets have a total
business volume beyond US$200 billion," Hoetger said.
Subject: UFTO Note - New Stirling Engine with Higher Temperature, Efficiency
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001
UFTO Note - New Stirling Engine with Higher Temperature, Efficiency
The Stirling engine is a piston engine that can operate with a variety of external heat sources (i.e., "external combustion", when a fuel is burned to supply the heat). A contained gas, typically helium, is cyclically heated to high temperatures and pressures to provide force on a piston, which then drives an electric generator. The difference in temperature between the heat source and a heat sink (typically the atmosphere) and the effectiveness of the transfer of heat into and out of the working gas is what determines its performance. Stirling engines are operating today with fuels as diverse as natural gas, fuel oil, and biomass (e.g., wood chips) and also with concentrated solar energy. Stirling engines typically have low maintenance and high reliability, and when paired with clean fuels can be an environmentally friendly way to generate power.
There have been many attempts over many decades to develop a commercially viable stirling engine, and recently there has been renewed interest and progress. (Try putting "stirling engine" in to a search engine like google, and stand back.)
Here are a few of the current players:
- STM Power Inc., Ann Arbor MI, has attracted industry and investor interest with their four-cylinder "swash-plate" design. http://www.stmpower.com
- Stirling Energy Systems, Phoenix AZ, plans to use the Swedish Kockums engine in solar dish concentrator developed with Boeing (actually Northrup). Rumor has it the company may be shortlived, having not been able to raise funding.
- Whisper Tech is a recent entrant from New Zealand, focused on residential cogeneration (aka micro combined heat and power - MCHP).
- Sigma PCP developed in Norway (www.sigma-el.com) is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Ocean Power (http://www.powerco.com); also directed at MCHP.
Alternative Designs, Inc. (ADI) has developed an advanced "Dual Shell" Stirling engine which permits operation at higher temperatures and thus higher efficiencies. They believe that this "Dual Shell" system and other improvements will allow the company to achieve a fuel to electricity conversion efficiency as high as 50%. They estimate that their costs could drop to around $400/kw. The engine has multi-fuel capability and full power levels at high altitudes. The 25kw unit is small and compact-- roughly 2 feet high and one foot in diameter.
In early 2001, ADI will complete a 25 kW prototype system and begin a performance validation program. Through early 2002, ADI will develop five additional prototypes and begin work to commercialize the product. ADI plans to sell complete power generation systems ranging from 25 to 100 kW beginning in late 2002.
ADI's advanced Dual Shell system utilizes a host of patent pending and proprietary technologies that will significantly improve the efficiency of a Stirling engine while simplifying construction and reducing manufacturing costs. Principle among these are a dual pressure vessel design which allows the engine to operate at higher temperatures while still using relatively common materials, and a reduced cost heater head design which reduces the number of manufacturing steps by a factor of ten.
The are looking for equity investors and a strategic partner. I can supply additional details and a copy of the business plan.
Wayne Bliesner, President, 425-402-9632, firstname.lastname@example.org
ADI's advanced Dual Shell system has the high efficiency and low system cost required for success in the power generation market. Its patented dual shell design enables the engine to operate at temperatures much higher than existing Stirling engines, increasing the relative efficiency by 20%. It also uses a specially designed regenerator that improves the relative efficiency another 5% by recycling the waste heat into the hot cycle of the working gas. On most Stirling engines the heater head component is responsible for 50% of the system cost -- primarily due to the complicated series of welds required. On the advanced Dual Shell system a patented design reduces the number of welds from 280 to 30. ADI had also invented a proprietary process that allows all 30 welds to occur simultaneously in a single step. Tests of this process have been conducted with outstanding success. These and several other patented or proprietary design and manufacturing improvements will allow ADI to produce high quality, low cost engines.
ADI has used advanced modeling techniques and testing to reduce the development risk of the Dual Shell system. For instance, software developed by NASA to study Stirling engine performance has been used by both ADI and independently by NASA to validate ADI's power and efficiency estimates. The results have instilled a high level of credibility in the advanced Dual Shell design. In addition, numerous prototypes of key components have been built to test and simplify manufacturing methods.
Reliability and flexibility have been designed in from the start. ADI projects that these engines can be run continuously for ten years with only four maintenance intervals. The basic system is expandable to allow easy development of higher power systems by simply connecting several units in series. (ADI has conceived of a way to allow each unit to be individually de-clutched from the power train so that, on the rare occasion that maintenance is required, the multi-unit generator set may remain safely and continuously on-line -- operating at slightly higher capacity on the remaining units.)
ADI's prototype engine drives a standard "off-the-shelf" electric generator at 1800 rpm to produce a minimum of 25 kW of continuous power at 480 Volts and 60 Hz.
Subject: UFTO Note - On Site Hydrogen for Generator Cooling
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2001
UFTO Note - On Site Hydrogen for Generator Cooling
Proton Energy Systems, as you know, is one of the prominent new companies
on the new "energy technology" scene, having done its IPO last Fall.
One thing that sets them apart from other fuel cell companies is the fact
that they have a successful commercial product line, namely the HOGEN hydrogen
generator. While they continue development of an advanced regenerative
fuel cell system based on PEM technology, the HOGEN is already entering
the market, in many exciting applications. In discussions with David
Wolff, VP of Marketing and Sales at Proton, I've learned that they are
gearing up a significant effort to introduce HOGEN for generator cooling.
I asked Dave to outline the main points of their story, so that UFTO companies
could check into it sooner. Here is his note.
Thank you, Ed, for your enthusiastic support and knowledgable advice as Proton positions our products within the electric generator cooling market. As you are aware, electric generator cooling is only one of many exciting market segments for HOGEN hydrogen generators, but the electric generator cooling segment has many unique attributes which make this the right time for an onsite hydrogen solution. I will review the important issues in this e-mail.
Onsite hydrogen is not new in electric generator cooling:
- Onsite hydrogen via electrolysis is not a new idea for electrical generator cooling. General Electric sold electric generators equipped for self-generation of hydrogen using old-style KOH (potassium hydroxide - "caustic") electrolyzers for many years during the mid-20th century. These systems were generally shipped to developing countries where the hydrogen infrastructure was non-existent, and the self-generation of hydrogen made it possible to have the high efficiency of a hydrogen cooled generator in these isolated areas. The downside to these old style electrolyzers was that they were very expensive, very labor intensive to operate (often requiring a dedicated staff of their own), were expensive to purchase, required constant maintenance, involved hazardous KOH electrolyte and asbestos cell separators, and had to be equipped with a compressor because they made hydrogen at a pressure of less than one psig.
How Proton's HOGEN hydrogen generator has changed the playing field for hydrogen generators:
Proton's HOGEN hydrogen generator uses innovative Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolysis technology instead of the customary liquid electrolyte technology to achieve electrolysis. But it is not just the interesting technology, but the total advantages of the system that make the difference:
- Very compact systems - our boxes are 10% of the size and weight
of the "traditional" KOH systems, and half the size and 30% of the weight
of the "advanced" KOH systems now being introduced by Stuart, Hydrogen
Systems and others.
- One box, all-in-one "Plug and Play" design - our systems contain all required components in a single box for ease of installation.
- The average installation time for a HOGEN 40 hydrogen generator is a couple of hours: a 380 installation and startup takes one day start to finish.
- Unmanned operation - Proton's HOGEN hydrogen generators operate unattended and require routine maintenance only once per year
- Fast delivery from stock - Proton has begun routine production of the HOGEN 40 hydrogen generator and they will be available for rapid delivery
- Process pressure without a compressor - HOGEN hydrogen generators deliver 150 psig or higher (depending on model) UHP grade hydrogen without the need for a mechanical compressor, eliminating the cost, electrical consumption, maintenance and operational complexity associated with the use of a hydrogen compressor.
- Highest purity - our systems deliver 99.999+% pure UHP grade hydrogen without the need for purification and without the risk of KOH carryover
- Aggressive pricing - our systems offer superior performance and are priced at or below the cost of a complete system offered by our competitors.
While Proton has introduced exciting new technology and convenience,
some of the excitement is driven by changes in the electrical utility
market and industrial gas market:
- Under regulation, utilities used to have little incentive to
reduce costs, since they were guaranteed a cost-plus profit - in essence
- the more they spent, the more they made. All this has changd under deregulation, and utilities are examining every chance to reduce costs.
- The cost reduction efforts have squeezed plant staffing, and the staff that used to be used to monitor the frequent hydrogen
- deliveries (hydrogen is a highly hazardous material and procedure is that the deliveries would be monitored by plant personnel) is no longer available. By eliminating or reducing deliveries, a HOGEN hydrogen generator frees up staff.
- The price of hydrogen has been rising at the rate of 10+% annually for the past several years (propelled by increases in natural
- gas, diesel fuel, regulation and labor) - the "cost to beat" for electrolysis is getting easier.
It is important to note that use of a HOGEN hydrogen generator may not eliminate the need to get delivered backup gas, and to have the ability to get hydrogen gas delivered for a generator refill (approximately once annually). The most cost-effective generator is sized to meet the steady-state needs of a generator, not the refill. For example, we know that a GE Frame 7 gas turbine requires approximately 21 cubic feet of hydrogen per hour for makeup gas, but requires 7500 scf of hydrogen to refill the generator after it has been purged of hydrogen. The refill gas is best supplied though a bulk delivery by an industrial gas supplier or some other supply method.
Also be aware that Proton's fundamental business philosophy is that we will access our markets through qualified incumbent distribution methods. In the case of hydrogen supply, the incumbent method is through industrial gas companies such as Air Liquide, Praxair, Airgas etc. Since we believe that sites will continue to require backup storage (often rented) and delivered gas for refilling after a purge, we believe that Proton's business goals and the customers' total requirements for technology, products and services may be best suited by accessing HOGEN hydrogen generators through industrial gas suppliers.
Beyond products and services, industrial gas suppliers can supply financing services to electric utilities. We are finding that in the new business environment, that generating stations are looking for a maximum two year payback on capital expenditures. We are often right on the edge of a two year payback, and thus it is difficult for the facility to make the right decision. Financing via a full service lease from an industrial gas company makes it an operating expenditure rather than a capital investment and makes the right decision easier to implement.
Current models of HOGEN hydrogen generators deliver 150-200 psig hydrogen without a compressor. We expect to be building systems within the near future that can deliver 1600 psig and up without a compressor. This would eliminated the need for delivered backup hydrogen because the systems would be able to pressurize the existing tube banks present at many electrical generating plants to their working storage pressure - making our own backup gas.
While the opportunities in generator cooling for HOGEN systems are exciting in the U.S. and in Western Europe, there are even more exciting opportunities possible outside of these areas. In many developing countries, regional and national utilities have been so desperate for reliable hydrogen supply that decades ago they purchased a small number of old fashioned KOH electrolyzers with large reciprocating compressor which they set up at centralized sites and they fill their own cylinders which they then truck hundreds of miles to their various electric generation sites. Thus they have the worst of both worlds - high cost hydrogen, and high cost distriibution. Our proposed "White paper" (which may be the presentation that we give at Power-Gen Latin America in Oct '01) will talk about replacing this far flung network with compact onsite hydrogen generators at each generation station, allowing the old central systems to be retired, decreasing costs and increasing reliability.
Hope this information is helpful. Thank you again for your enthusiasm and assistance.
David E. Wolff
V.P. Marketing and Sales
Proton Energy Systems
50 Inwood Rd.
Rocky Hill, CT. 06067
(860) 571-6533 x254
(860) 571-6505 FAX
Subject: UFTO Note - AET - Solar Hot Water
Date: Fri, 02 Feb 2001
UFTO Note - AET - Solar Hot Water
American Energy Technologies (AET) of Jacksonville, FL has been a leader in solar hot water heating systems since 1987. They now have two new products that represent a major advance in the state of the art in residential solar hot water. In addition, they are nearing the demonstration phase of a new high temperature solar collector suitable for power generation or process steam applications.
These two programs represent new technology and new business or investment opportunities. (Disclosure- I am a consultant for the company.)
I. Residential Solar Hot Water
"Sav'nSun" system is a pre-assembled system designed for easy retrofit installation. The system is freeze-proof, and features a smaller, more attractive solar collector that resembles a skylight on the roof.
"EagleSun" is designed specifically for new home construction - an attractive, economical, low-maintenance solar water heater that actually becomes part of the roof while the home is being built. Unlike a conventional thermosiphon system with its unsightly tank above the collector, the EagleSun appliance is fully integrated into the roof structure and presents a clean skylight appearance. Each system is factory pre-assembled making installation quick and easy. Unlike other ICS systems, EagleSun works in freezing and non-freezing conditions, and does not require a secondary tank and heating element , making it the first true solar appliance for the building industry in all regions of the country.
Both system use AETs' proprietary Black Crystal selective coating ?
which absorbs more energy in the day and loses less energy at night than
conventional collector coatings. The Black Crystal coating, which is also
non-toxic and environmentally friendly, was developed in cooperation with
Sandia National Labs. See:
These systems are enjoying a very positive response among builders.
The company is seeking $1.5-$2.0 million for to ramp up commercialization,
and is also interested in finding strategic partners.
II. Solar Thermal Electric
AET is also developing a high temperature solar collector (HTSC), suitable for process steam and electric power production, but without the limited applicability and high cost of concentrators and vacuum collectors. (A new separate company will be formed for this program.)
The HTSC is a flat plate (one-sun) collector. "One-sun" means there is no concentration of the sun's energy. It can operate with diffuse light and has a wide acceptance angle. Until HTSC, vacuum tubes were the only one-sun technology with the ability to achieve sufficiently high temperatures for STE applications. U.S. Patent No. 5,653,222
The Jacksonville Electric Authority has determined that HTSC, if proven, would provide an attractive return for them, compared to the alternatives of PV, biomass, and fuel cell technologies. JEA is therefore working with AET to develop a combined cycle pilot project in 2001. If this proves successful, JEA is considering 100 MW of HTSC as part of a new 500 MW plant being planned. Such an installation would require HTSC array covering approximately 50 acres.
An initial outside investment $1.0 million is needed for development of a production model of the high temperature collector system and to support the pilot project in 2001.
I can supply copies of brochures, studies and business plans for these two programs.
Richard Squires, CEO
904.781.7000 x102 email@example.com
Subject: UFTO Note - Fuel Cell info; DOE DP Program
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001
In the Jan 23 UFTO Note about the Fuel Cell Seminar, several sources of information on Fuel cells were provided. Here is some additional clarification of how four separate publications are related.
Fuel Cells 2000 is an activity of the Breakthrough Technologies Institute (BTI), a non-profit organization formed to promote the development and early commercialization of fuel cells and related pollution-free, efficient energy generation, storage and utilization technologies and fuels. http://www.fuelcells.org
They publish "Fuel Cell Connection", a monthly sponsored by USFCC, NFCRC,
(subscribe at http://fuelcellnews.listbot.com)
This will also get you the quarterly "Fuel Cell Catalyst", (the Winter 2001 issue arrived this afternoon) and access to back issues:
Fuel Cells 2000 also publishes and distributes its own monthly "Technology
Update", summarizing recent events in the fuel cell industry
And, they publish "Fuel Cell Quarterly" -- subscription requires a paid contribution of $25 or more.
All of the above mentioned organizations have extensive websites with
lots of documents, links, lists, etc.
The January 2001 issue of Fuel Cell Connection arrived today, with 28 separate items. Here are two that are noteworthy.
9. NREL Establishes Center for Distributed Power
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has established a new "Distributed Energy Resources Center" to conduct research and provide information needed to efficiently develop additional power supplies from small, decentralized generating units. Research on fuel cells and microturbines will fall under the "Hydrogen and Natural Gas Systems" section of the center.
10. Guide to Doing Business with DOE’s National Laboratories Now
The Laboratory Coordinating Council of the DOE has prepared a guide to "Doing Business with the Laboratories of the Laboratory Coordinating Council. (LLC)" The guide is available online through the DOE Office of Industrial Technologies.
Even though the "LLC" is focused specifically on the Office of Industrial Technologies, this new document appears to be a good new resource about the whole subject.
Speaking of Distributed Power and NREL, the DOE program is really taking off.
On December 4, 2000, DOE released its "Strategic Plan for Distributed Energy Resources," (dated September 2000) which outlines a national effort to develop clean, reliable and affordable distributed energy technologies over the next two decades. The goal of the plan is eventually to allow industrial, commercial and residential customers to choose from an array of distributed energy resource products and services. The Strategic Plan will focus initially on developing "next-generation" distributed energy technologies and addressing the institutional and regulatory barriers that interfere with the development of dis-tributed energy resources. The DOE also outlined six separate strategic areas it plans to address in the near future.
"The Strategic Plan for Distributed Energy Resources" can be found on
the Internet at
(Generally thislast website is the one to pay attention to.)
The DP Program Review meeting was just held the week before last in Washington. Very soon I hope to be able to pass along detailed notes from the NREL folks who are handling the website.
UFTO Note - Fuel Cell Seminar, CADER/DPCA
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2001
UFTO Note - Fuel Cell Seminar, CADER/DPCA
Fuel Cell Seminar http://www.gofuelcell.com
30 Oct - 2 Nov 2000, Portland, OR
This is the major Fuel Cell event, held every two years. The last one was in Palm Springs. There was a huge turnout -over 2000 people, with lots of financial types and corporations represented. It was a strange kind of transitional hybrid between a professional technical conference and an industry trade show. The exhibitions were far more lavish than ever before.
My own foremost impression - it is not about fuel cells. It's about the fuel. The fuel cell is the easy part. Getting fuel for it (espec PEM) is the hard part. The great majority of papers and discussion revolved around fuel processing.
Most often heard new (to me) jargon -- "fromwellhead to wheel".
This refers to need to take the efficiency of entire fuel cycle into account--
for example methanol has already sacrificed energy content by the time
it's made. Reformer hydrogen has less energy content than the
fossil fuel you start with.
Abstracts of the 2000 Fuel Cell Seminar. The book given to attendees
is about 1.5 " thick. Also on a CD. ( a set of 250 pdf files,
totalling over 83 MB) The book or the CD may be available for purchase
from the conference sponsors. Contact:
"Wiesenfeld, Susan" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The new 5th edition of the DOE Fuel Cell Handbook (Oct 2000) was handed out at the Seminar. Will be available on the NETL website. http://www.netl.doe.gov (I have the CD…main pdf file is 3.5 Meg which I can email on request)
To order the CD http://184.108.40.206/
[web tip] -- The NETL website has its fuelcell materials under the Strategic
Center for Natural Gas/End-Use. The "News" is particularly useful:
A couple of choice items:
--The Fall 2000 issue of Fuel Cell Catalyst [PDF-70KB] is now available. This is a new free quarterly newsletter for the fuel cell industry, reporting on government and industry fuel cell issues, including: special themes focused on particular segments of the industry, in-depth looks at federal fuel cell programs, and reports from companies on the status of their own research.
Subscribe at http://fuelcellnews.listbot.com/
--The final solicitation [PDF-498KB] for DOE's Strategic Center for Natural Gas new fuel cell initiative, called the Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance, or SECA, was posted 11/3/00. The goal of SECA is to accelerate the development of the industry based needed to produce low-cost solid-state fuel cells.
Several key reports are available at the DOE Office of Transportation website:
-Challenges for Transportation Fuel Cells: Fuel Processing and Cost
- October 2000
-A.D. Little Fuel Cell Cost Study--Cost Analysis of Fuel Cell System
for Transportation - March 2000
FUEL CELLS & CIDI Engine R&D
Solicitation Number: DE-RP04-01AL67057
Description: Solicitation for financial assistance applications for research, development and analysis of automotive and stationary fuel cell power systems, fuels for fuel cells, and Compression Ignition Direct Injection (CIDI) engines.
(download full solicitation document available 851 KB)
HIGHLIGHTS & OTHER ENCOUNTERS:
Zetek Power. Alkaline FC. Met the CEO Mick Abson.
Very confident they have a commercial product, and that the market will
prove them right. Use canisters of crystals to clean CO2 out of the
air and out of the hydrogen supply, which critics view as unwieldy.
Have working taxi cabs. etc.
Millenium Cell received a lot of attention. Their novel system
generates H2 as needed ("on demand") without compression or heating, by
reacting sodium borohydride (NaBH4) in water solution over a ruthenium
catalyst. Half the H2 actually comes from the water. The missing
link is a cost effective way to regenerate the resulting compound (NaBO2)
back into NaBH4, however the company has just announced a venture with
Rohm & Haas, the world's largest manufacturer of sodium borohydride,
a specialty chemical presently used in a variety of industries, to develop
more economical methods. The company had previously announced a joint
development agreement with Ballard to further develop the system for use
with Ballard's portable power fuel cell products.
The company had it's IPO in August 2000 (MCEL)
DPCA/CADER San Diego Nov 10-11
The gathering of the clan, with a few luminaries to spice it up.
S. David Freeman (who needs no introduction?) is convinced that DG is the way of the future, and that a lot of the discussion is focused on minor issues instead of the big ones. Big G&T is in trouble; by supporting current T&D, DG can reduce stranding of those assets; state laws for net metering needed.
Matt Haber, EPA Region 9 Assoc. Director, worries a lot about the ill effects of diesel DG.
One of the big highlights of the conference was a luncheon presentation by Amory Lovins, "Small is Profitable: The Hidden Economic Benefits fo Making Electrical Resources the Right Size". In typical Lovins fashion, it was a blitzkrieg of facts and figures and challenging ideas. He previewed the ideas to appear in a forthcoming book that he actually wrote before "Natural Capital" which will be out mid 2001.
From one of his papers available online at http://www.rmi.org :
"The Distributed Utility: Small Is Profitable"
"Powerful forces are driving a similarly rapid transition to distributed electric generation, where the power plant shifts from a large remote station to rooftops, basements, backyards or driveways. These incentives include risk reduction through increased system resilience and faster time to market in places and at scales most desired; economies of scale in the production of smaller, modular generation units, such as combined-cycle gas turbines, wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and fuel cells, rather than of electricity from large power plants; and avoided transmission and distribution grid investment. Collectively, about 75 such "distributed benefits" can often make decentralized production, storage, or saving of electricity about tenfold more valuable than today's energy commodity prices reflect. Unable to deliver those benefits, the central power plant, like much bulk electric transmission, will soon become a white elephant, uneconomic to run and difficult to sell. Such plants are unlikely to survive in significant numbers by 2030 in any market economy. Unpleasant vulnerabilities built into the architecture of brittle, highly centralized systems—exemplified by Year 2000 computer problems—could accelerate this trend toward smaller and more localized electricity generation."
The total market for local gensets worldwide is about 40 GW/year, including both reciprocating engines and gas turbines, and this company is the 4th largest producer, selling 15 GW/$1.8 billion per year (after GE, Siemens, and Cummins), with units ranging from 5 KW to 16 MW. Most of this is outside the US. They're optimistic that with Catalytica's Xonon flameless combustion, turbines can reduce emissions enough to avoid the need cleanup technology. The Solar people also hosted a nice bay cruise on the company's big beautiful yacht
OR stands for Organic Rankine. This company has been at it for 3 decades, with a wide range of applications all over the world, using various mid and low grade heat sources to generate power. The company tends to be identified with geothermal, but they've got many other interesting applications with bottoming cycles, waste heat utilization, and solar thermal, at all size ranges. U.S. headquarters is in Nevada.
This is the flywheel from defunct Rosen Motors. In private conversation, Dave Townley, who recently joined the company from NewEnergy/AES, described the product as being ready for beta fairly soon. 120 KW for 20 seconds.
Download a Word doc brochure at:
National Fuel Cell Research Center, UC Irvine
Scott Samuelsen, Director, invites folks to come for a visit. They want to be objective third party testers of fuel cells and other DG.
Community Power http://www.gocpc.com
Interesting little company in Denver. Has a deal with Shell Renewable. Building a self-contained 25 kw biomass power plant and several other products targeted for 3rd world. Remarkably well focused on the customer and the market.
Nextek Power Systems, Inc. http://www.nextekpower.com
Patrick McCafferty made a presentation on the process of innovation without saying much about his company's products, which involve distribution and use of DC power in buildings. From their website, for those of you who've thought about direct use of DC: "Nextek produces Modular Power Supplies that Directly Couples distributed generation sources such as Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and Fuel cells to other building loads such as lighting. Direct Coupling optimizes the interface between power generation and electric loads within the built environment, avoiding conversion losses and eliminating the need for inverters, converters, surge-protectors and un-interrupted power supplies."