Distributed Power Generation and Natural Gas

We are very excited to attend the ARPA-E workshop on small-scale distributed generation:


Compared to low-efficiency coal plants, with high pollution, transmission losses, inflexibility and security issues, a distributed generation network featuring CCI engines burning natural gas can provide tremendous benefits to the US’s power grid, energy security, and environment.  The CCI’s high compression ratio (our demonstrator is over 35 to 1 and this is NOT an upper limit), high average temperature and low rate of volumetric change around top dead center give us the ability to ignite direct injected natural gas in a compression ignition engine without having to use any kind of ignition catalyst.  In fact, a CCI at 6000 rpm can complete ignition of NG in 2 degrees of crank angle, compared to 180 degrees for a conventional diesel at 2400 rpm! (6000 rpm equates to about 6m/s mean piston speed in a CCI, similar to 2400 rpm in a conventional diesel)

Microturbines are expensive and inefficient when you cannot utilize the waste heat, as would be the case in most residential applications.  Sterling engines require very expensive materials for heat transfer to perform well.  Fuel cells are also dependent on rare and expensive materials.

Needless to say, we’re pretty excited about this application of the CCI!