CET trials renewable energy system

by: Phil Curtis 12/05/2014

A UK engineering team has just completed a landmark test of a new renewable energy system that generates electricity from non-combustible industrial gases. The trial was run over an extended period, and successfully demonstrated output, reliability, performance and endurance.

Corac Energy Technologies has spent the last year investigating ways to recover useful amounts of energy from pressurised industrial gases. The team at their Technology Centre in Slough has developed a micro-turbine generation system based on their patented gas bearings and permanent magnet motor technologies, used in this case as an expander generator.

Pressurised gases are used for many purposes in public buildings, hotels and hospitals, industrial, oil refining, petrochemical and pharmaceutical plants. It is usually controlled by pressure reducing valves which can be replaced by expander generators to turn unused energy into real value.

The CET system generates power from high pressure gas, which  passes through a compact and high efficiency turbine that spins at around 60,000rpm. This micro-turbine expander is attached to a generator which efficiently produces 50kW (net) of electricity. The CET system is about the size of a cylinder vacuum cleaner, and is at the heart of an installable unit about the size of a Smart car that can fit into many industrial settings.

The business benefits of using this micro-turbine expander are clear. Based on current electricity rates of around 9p/kwhr, this small test system can generate more than £100 worth of electricity per day, or around £40,000 per year. These milestone tests are a step on the path to a wider range of commercial systems, with more powerful versions generating even greater returns.

Philip Nichol, Chief Engineer on the project said: “The opportunities for renewable energy from these sources are great. CET’s engineers have taken our unique and proven compression technologies, adapted them, and opened a source of valuable renewable energy to industrial plants around the world.”

Expander impeller and diffuser