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You are here: > News > March 3, 2006

Sunpower Unveils 2007 Micro Co-Generation Technology

Device uses Stirling engine to efficiently burn natural gas to generate heat and 1 kW of electricity.  Designed for kitchen installation in Europe.  Brings distributed energy concept home.

by Tim Ventura

Click here
to view Tim Ventura's interview with a Sunpower representative at the STAIF conference.
(Google Video)

STAIF 2006 product-exhibitor Sunpower Inc. unveiled the Microgen Combined Heat & Power (microCHP) system, an innovative electrical co-generation unit scheduled to hit the European consumer market in 2007 through British appliance distributor Microgen, Inc. The Microgen system is powered by natural gas and utilizes a free-piston Stirling-cycle engine to generate both a kilowatt of 50hz electrical energy in addition to home water-heating for domestic cooking & home-heating systems.

The Sunpower/Microgen marketing strategy is to target residential homes in Western Europe currently utilizing natural-gas fired boilers typically mounted on a kitchen cabinet. The high-reliability and low operating noise of the Microgen free-piston Stirling design allows the company to replace these boilers with a co-generation unit featuring both the low-noise and high-reliability of a kitchen refrigerator, while additionally producing a kilowatt of direct electrical energy and complete home-water heating needs.

The Microgen system takes a unique approach to generating electricity, as pressure-waves in liquid drive the Stirling-cycle piston through an alternator to produce current. The pressure wave itself is created by a large temperature differential when the gas-flame heats the top of the Stirling engine while the bottom of the engine is cooled by an incoming water-return from a radiator system. Thus, the device is essentially powered by waste-heat redirected for water & radiative heating, which in turn sets up the required pressure-differential to power the electrical generation unit.

This 3-minute interview takes place during the device's first public showing at STAIF 2006, where we get a rare cutaway-view of the internal components and an engineering overview in what's next in free-piston Stirling-cycle technology. The technology itself is flexible & scalable enough to allow future versions of the device to run on oil, liquid petroleum gas, and a variety of other fuels. The final selling point for this technology is it's compliance with Kyoto environmental-treaty regulations -- with the claim that if every home in the UK utilized this new Microgen technology, it could contribute to as much as 25% of the UK's required Kyoto-treaty obligations.

# # #


See also

Page posted by Sterling D. Allan March 3, 2006
Last updated December 24, 2014





"It is harder to crack a prejudice than an atom." // "I'd rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right." -- Albert Einstein

ADVISORY: With any technology, you take a high risk to invest significant time or money unless (1) independent testing has thoroughly corroborated the technology, (2) the group involved has intellectual rights to the technology, and (3) the group has the ability to make a success of the endeavor.
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When you're two steps ahead,
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