Cool Cash for Hot Prospects at Capstone

Cool Cash for Hot Prospects at Capstone

Department of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced a $3 million award to Capstone Turbine Corporation for the research, development and testing of packaged cooling, heating and power systems for buildings.

The goal of the project, according to a DOE press release, is to "focus on innovative integration of [distributed energy resource] power generation, thermal recovery, and thermally activated cooling and humidity control technologies.

"Approximately two thirds of the fuel energy used to generate electricity in the U.S. is wasted in the form of discarded heat," the DOE press release states. "Distributed energy resources, or DER, refer to small-scale power generation systems located close to the point of use. By productively using DER system waste heat to provide cooling, heating and humidity control in commercial and institutional buildings, these systems can improve overall resource efficiency levels to 70% or greater."

"Capstone and the companies that it works with have already made great technological strides forward in developing effective and affordable combined heat-power-and-chilling systems. These systems have demonstrated real-world thermal efficiencies ranging from 70 to more than 90 percent," said Capstone President & CEO Ake Almgren. "This award will aid our efforts to develop even better operational economics for end-users by making use of Capstone’s clean, dry exhaust heat on a year-round basis."

In current applications, exhaust heat from Capstone MicroTurbines has been used to supplement boilers, maintain proper greenhouse temperatures, and to heat water or air, mitigating the natural gas or other fuel otherwise needed to perform these heating tasks.

The hot, dry exhaust of Capstone MicroTurbines has also been used to drive absorption and desiccant-based chillers, producing space cooling while reducing demand on the electrical system. This DOE award will fund further integration and optimization of these technologies with the microturbine, with the goal of making them available to a wider array of economic applications.

In a recent brief meeting at the DOE, Almgren showed President Bush and Energy Secretary Abraham photographs of microturbine-powered cooling/heating/power systems currently operating around the world. "These are excellent examples of increasing energy efficiency in an environmentally beneficial way, as outlined in the administration’s National Energy Policy," Almgren said.

In 2000, Capstone was selected by the DOE to receive a $10 million award, over a five-year period, to develop an Advanced Microturbine System. The target objectives of the Advanced Microturbine System program are to create a microturbine system that will produce 150 – 200 kilowatts, operate at a fuel-to-electricity efficiency of at least 40 percent, with NOx emissions of less than seven parts per million.