Southern Research Institute Helps U.S. Navy Generate Electricity

Southern Research Institute Helps U.S. Navy Generate Electricity

Southern Research Institute on Monday announced it has finalized plans to demonstrate an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) generator at the U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center, Mobile Utilities Support Equipment (MUSE) Division in Port Hueneme, Calif. which could potentially produce up to 624 gross megawatt hours of electricity in a year using waste heat and deliver a new source of energy to remote military installations.

This evaluation, conducted by Southern Research under a program funded by the U.S. Dept. of Defense’s (DoD’s) Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), is expected to provide independently verified information about the efficiencies and value of using waste heat to power technology to reduce energy costs, and environmental impacts, for military facilities. The mission of the ESTCP program is to find solutions that will advance the military’s high-priority environmental and energy goals.

Technicians at the MUSE facility will initially operate the generator—which produces electricity using low-grade waste heat—and then deploy it as part of a remote DoD field operation. Data will be collected and analyzed by Southern Research engineers and technicians.

“Our work with ESTCP continues to showcase promising technologies that will advance progress being made to achieve the DoD’s aggressive renewable energy, energy security, and environmental goals,” said Tim Hansen, program manager and director for Southern Research’s Advanced Energy & Transportation Technologies Center. “By using unique technology to generate electricity from otherwise wasted—but useful—energy, a new energy source is made available, improving generating efficiency, reducing operational costs, and reducing emissions.”

The ORC generator being evaluated is the Green Machine manufactured by Nevada-based ElectraTherm, Inc.  This technology uses low-grade waste heat—with a current focus on fossil fuel-fired electrical generators—to generate additional local power to boost overall system efficiency. The ability to successfully deploy this technology in remote or portable military installations where fuel costs are high, and the delivery of fuel poses a safety risk to troops, could be particularly beneficial.

The system could potentially boost the overall fuel efficiency of a one megawatt diesel-fired electric generator by six- to eight-percent, capturing heat from the engine’s exhaust and radiator coolant and safely and efficiently converting it to electric power.

Naval Today Staff, February 7, 2013; Image: Southern Research Institute