A Microturbine for the Household?

by Carter Palmer, Power Systems SpecialistForecast International.

The core of the EnerTwin is a recuperated micro turbine. Photo: EnerTwin

Bigger is not always better, and for the employees at Micro Turbine Technology (MTT), small is in. While turbines generally evoke thoughts of aviation or power generation, microturbines fall under a niche category in which power generation is paramount and size is small. Whether the extreme heat these machines produce is utilized depends on their particular application, but what if a turbine’s primary purpose was to produce heat instead of generate power?

MTT has developed a turbine for which heat is indeed its major purpose and power is almost an afterthought. The EnerTwin is a combined heat and power (CHP) microturbine that brings numerous advantages to smaller operators. Small businesses, large-sized homes, apartment buildings, and schools are some of the market sectors listed by MTT as potential installation points for this machine. The microturbine’s size lends itself well to these smaller applications.

The EnerTwin is small as microturbines go – very small, in fact. With 15.6 kW net thermal power and 3.2 kW of electric power, the EnerTwin is physically only about 1 meter tall. These microturbines, which can be joined together to meet higher demands, save money in the long term. MTT sees the EnerTwin as ideal for applications with annual heating demands of 30,000 kWh to 120,000 kWh. The unit’s generation of electricity equates to 25,000 kWh a year, which translates to 25 percent in operational savings.

The machine also complies with strict environmental standards.

The EnerTwin’s efficiency (heat and power combined) is reportedly about 94 percent, while its CO2 emission reduction comes in at about 3 to 6 tons annually. Utilizing fuel in this manner provides a significant environmental advantage when compared to conventional powerplants. Maintenance is also a factor that has been well addressed, with a 5,000 operating hour interval between scheduled maintenance. MTT states that the EnerTwin’s maintenance costs are  five times lower than that of internal combustion engines and fuel cells. With the EnerTwin, MTT has developed an efficient, relatively clean way to lower power-generation costs, as well as providing a means of expanding the system.

MTT envisions other applications for microturbines, and is currently developing a broader range of products – an auxiliary power unit for trucks, a range extender for electric cars, and a microturbine R&D “lab” are all in the works at MTT.

As with any new idea and/or product, it will take some time before success can be measured. The EnerTwin is covered by numerous patents; however, if the idea of a household turbine ever catches on, other manufacturers may develop customized products based on their own designs. With deliveries of the EnerTwin having started this year, it will not be long before results can be measured.

Forecast International produces two distinct Power Systems products. The Aviation Gas Turbine Forecast presents the 15-year outlook for aviation turbofan, turboprop and turboshaft engines and more. The Industrial & Marine Turbine Forecast covers the markets for gas and steam turbines, mechanical drive engines, and marine power, among others.

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