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Steam engine 'turns waste heat into electricity'

A US company has unveiled an engine which it claimed can generate up to 10kW of electricity of power per unit from waste heat.

The WHE-Gen 10 can use the thermal exhaust of small industrial furnaces, ovens, kilns, flares and the like, said its developer Florida-based Cyclone Power Technologies. Modified systems are being developed to run off the exhaust of diesel engines and turbines, the company added.

The engine is based on Cyclone’s existing six-cylinder radial Rankine cycle engine. In effect, it is a 16HP thermally efficient closed-cycle steam engine. The company also sells multi-fuel internal combustion engines incorporating the six-cylinder motor that can run on biofuels, gas, waste oil, or even solar, and is developing larger versions of the waste heat engine.

The waste heat engines are designed to run in the steam zone, using input heat at between 500-700ºF (260-370ºC), the company said, but could run as low as 200ºF (93ºC) if an alternative organic working fluid was used.

“We know that there is a huge market for waste heat recovery systems in the size and heat input range of the WHE-Gen 10,” said Christopher Nelson, executive vice-president of Cyclone and managing director of its waste heat operations. He claimed that, based on US Department of Energy statistics, there are well over $250m of potential small-scale waste heat installations in the US alone that could benefit from a WHE-Gen system.

A limited number of WHE-Gen 10 beta units is available for installation in pilot sites, Nelson added, such as one that Cyclone is currently conducting with its customer, Bent Glass Design. Commercial production is expected to commence in 2011, he said.

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