I sometimes wonder of the new technologies that emerge from the various sectors of alternative energy: wind, solar, tidal, even “free energy”. But as I do that, I also give myself the explanation of so many inventions and ideas, and that is: the future of energy is not single-sourced, but as various as possible. We have to be aware of anything provable or theoretically conceivable to expand our future sources of energy. If we won’t do that, we’ll end up exhausting everything our nature (or God, if you prefer) has given to us.
This is the case with this article, that doesn’t talk about huge producers of energy, or doesn’t mention the use of any prime matter to create energy, but instead it focuses on recycled one. Ener-G-Rotors, a company based in Schenectady, NY, is developing a heat recycler that can work with lower quantities of heat, under 150°C, unlike those of the competitors, aimed only to the higher-class, industrial energy producing stations.
Their generator uses a “gerotor“, which is in essence an electrical generator, built with a slightly different perspective. It uses the Rankine cycle, an 1800s idea, in which a heated fluid (in this case, the heated air coming from the heat source – whatever source emitting excess heat), heats up another pressurized fluid in a second tube, via a heat exchanger. The second tube is a closed loop, and it contains a refrigerant with a low boiling point, like those OTEC ocean thermo-electric generators I was mentioning a few articles ago work. The heated refrigerant then vaporizes and travels into a larger space called “expander”. There, it expands, exerting mechanical pressure that can be converted to energy.
Here comes the interesting part: instead of using a regular turbine, the expanding vapor in Ener-G-Rotors’ system turns the gerotor, which is really two concentric rotors. The inner rotor attaches to an axle, and the outer rotor is a kind of collar around it. The rotors have mismatched gear teeth, and when vapor passing between them forces them apart, the gears mesh, turning the rotor. What’s most interesting is that the device itself is made in such a manner that it’s almost frictionless – and hence very easy to turn.
The gerotor looks like this:
The system still has a 10 to 15% efficiency, but that is enough to generate for the system to pay itself off in about two years of usage, says CEO Michael Newell.
The company’s testing 5 kW units are being installed at several heat-producing facilities around NY, and they’re planning to build 50kW units for the near future. As all startups, they’re expecting someone to finance their ideas and costs, to be competitive with other bigger brothers in this energy niche.