1. What is Ener-G-Rotors?
Based in Schenectady, NY, Ener-G-Rotors, Inc.
manufactures, sells and services devices that generate electricity from low-temperature waste heat. In a time when renewable resources are being urgently sought as alternatives to fossil fuels, Ener-G-Rotors has created its own niche in the industrial waste heat market by offering cost-effective solutions that convert low-temperature heat (i.e., 150-400 °F) into electricity at the 5kW-to-50kW size range. This extra electricity is then returned to the customer’s grid. Surprisingly, 15 to 20 percent of all energy used in the United States is lost to low-grade waste heat. So, in order to utilize this untapped resource, Ener-G-Rotors creates full systems that are modular enough to fit almost anywhere. Furthermore, they are easy to install, operate and maintain.
The company’s patented Trochoidal Gear Engine (TGE) technology, used in an Organic Rankine Cycle, is proven to be more efficient, cost-effective, and durable than existing expander technologies and is the first to perform the conversion economically at small scales. It also economically converts at lower temperatures than existing systems (i.e., below 400 °F). Ener-G-Rotors’ technology has a vast array of waste-heat conversion applications, including industrial facilities, combined heat and power installations, large commercial buildings, and off-grid HVAC (high-voltage alternating current); and it has other applications, such as residential solar thermal and geothermal.
2. How was Ener-G-Rotors created? What relationships and collaborative efforts were involved in bringing the technology to market?
In 2004, the company was formed from an angel investment and a $30,000 NYS appropriation that was initiated by then-Assemblyman Paul Tonko. The company has continued operations with grants-in-lieu-of-services contracts with New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and a number of angel investments. Ed Zampella, the founder, and George Yarr, the inventor of the technology, had worked together for many years at Mechanical Technology Inc. and Clever Fellows Innovation Consortium. The two of them have extensive experience in high-power-density and high-efficiency engines as well as energy conversion systems. Mr. Yarr had invented the technology many years earlier, and the first application in converting heat to electricity was done at Ohio State University.
In July 2009, Ener-G-Rotors, Inc. received an $800,0000 grant through NYSERDA to develop a 50-kW prototype system that should be operational by early 2010 and will convert low-temperature heat into energy on a larger scale than their current model. In September 2009, the company received another $400 NYSERDA grant for business development efforts.
3. What is Ener-G-Rotors’ business plan?
At the moment, the company’s primary target market is the industrial waste heat marketplace as well as CHP installations and commercial buildings; however, the entire range of potential applications includes the following:
• Industrial waste heat that is a byproduct of manufacturing;
• Combined heat and power systems with excess heat capacity;
• Commercial buildings with excess heat from HVAC operation;
• Solar thermal heating systems (<10kw) that have excess heat capacity or would benefit from solar hot water;
• Concentrating solar thermal systems (>50kW) in areas of indirect sunlight where the high temperatures of industrial solar thermal systems is hard to reach;
• Geothermal systems of smaller size and lower temperatures;
• Biomass or any low BTU fuel that cannot reach high enough temperatures to be efficient;
• Hybrid vehicles to capture some of the heat from the internal combustion engine and make electricity;
• Off-grid HVAC where some electricity is needed to power fans and pumps; and
• Portable generators to raise the overall efficiency.
Ener-G-Rotors’ current product suite ranges from 5kW to 50kW in system size, all of which can use 150 °F to 400 °F liquid or gas input. To prove the technology, a number of 5kW development systems have been built and deployed. A 5kW system was installed at Harbec Plastics in Ontario, NY to improve the electrical generation efficiency of two Capstone microturbines. Based on the performance of this 5kWE system, Harbec has placed an order for the 50kW system currently in development. Another 5kW system was shipped to Consolidated Edison in NYC to run on a waste steam stream. Currently, the company is building a 50kW prototype that is expected to be finished early next year.
Eventually, the products may range in size from 1 to 150 kW in capacity for application in a variety of settings, from residential to industrial applications.
In the hopes of obtaining a contract for an energy project, the company is closely following the federal stimulus project list postings. Over the next three years, the company plans to create 35 to 40 new green jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and support services.
4. What is the current status of Ener-G-Rotors? In what publicly disclosed research and development efforts has Ener-G-Rotors recently been engaged?
The Ener-G-Rotors’ technology was patented in 2001.
A finalist in the Individual Energy category at the World Technology Awards 2009, Ener-G-Rotors was also recognized by leading industry associations and publications, including the 2009 “Most Promising Technology” award at the Cleantech Forum XXI in San Francisco, and the honor of being named by EnergyTechStocks.com as one of the "Top 10 Private Companies to Watch in 2009”.
5. Who is on the Ener-G-Rotors team?
Michael Newell, CEO
Ed Zampella, Jr., Founder and VP of Development
Ted Eveleth, COO
George Yarr, Inventor
6. How was your logo designed?
The logo, designed by the award-winning marketing firm Sonnenberg & Partners, represents the transformation of low-grade heat into electricity, both in color and shape.