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STIRLING Engine R&D Gets Mass Financial Boost

Flyby News
Jonathan Mark
07 March 2008


Finally, after more than 13 years of independent research and development (R&D), a program for renewable energy, sponsored by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, has provided matching funds for a loan to develop thermal electricity generation based on a Stirling engine. The following is an article published yesterday in The Recorder, newspaper in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Please note that FN publisher/editor Jonathan Mark is a co-founder in the company with inventor Ricardo Conde, founded in 1995. Capital investment in this effort was curtailed for quite a while from the 2001 burst of the high tech bubble on Wall Street, and from the events of September 11.

State loan kicks engine research into high gear
Published by The Recorder (Greenfield MA) 06 March 2008
By RICHIE DAVIS Recorder Staff

A New Salem researcher specializing in a 200-year-old energy technology that's been all but forgotten has won a $500,000 loan from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to make it applicable to solar and other renewable power sources.

ReGen Power Systems was awarded the convertible loan to develop solar thermal and biomass electricity generation technologies based on a Stirling engine, which researcher Ricardo Conde has been working on for 13 years, in Athol and more recently in Connecticut.

It wasn't until 2004, however, that the New Salem resident -- who trained at the New York City Technical College, Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and Parsons School of Design -- saw a design breakthrough that he says allows for much lower operating temperatures for the engine, which was first invented in 1816 by Scottish minister Robert Stirling.

Now, with six months to find matching capital for what is his first public funding grant, Conde hopes to capture the heat from a solar-thermal collector or landfill-gas or similar engine to make electricity.

''Capital is hard to get at the stage we're in,'' said Conde, who is working to set up a 500-kilowatt pilot project at a Worcester glass manufacturing site in late 2009. ''This adds to the momentum for other investors to get involved.''

Mass Tech Collaborative, which administers the state's Renewable Energy Trust that made the $500,000 Sustainable Energy Economic Development (SEED) award, ''is set up to get involved earlier, with high-risk technologies,'' said Conde.

The Stirling engine, which once powered tractors and fell into disuse when the internal combustion engine came into vogue, uses an external heat source, such as waste heat.

Its high efficiency comes from using a heat exchanger to cool the hot expanded gas while retaining some of that heat to power the next cycle, according to Conde.

The heat recovered in the cooling cycle then can be recycled.

Conde, who said he plans to set up a research site somewhere in western Massachusetts sometime in the next three months, had a breakthrough four years ago that allows his Stirling engine to operate at 500 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of 1,300 degrees as with waste industrial heat, so that it can make use of solar thermal and biomass sources, increasing efficiency by up to 50 percent for about half the price of large-scale solar-thermal generating plants.

The ReGen grant was announced by state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, and Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington.

''It's great to see this kind of investment being made in western Massachusetts,'' said Rosenberg. ''Innovative technology like this will help us address two of our most pressing needs -- sustainable economic development and environmental preservation.''

Kulik added, ''This grant award represents a serious public investment in a promising and innovative renewable energy technology. It is an example of western Massachusetts' leadership in advancing energy independence and green technologies. I congratulate ReGen on receiving this highly competitive grant to further develop the Stirling engine and promote greater use of solar and biomass resources.''

Converting low-temperature industrial waste heat to industrial-scale power represents a multi-billion dollar market opportunity that is currently not addressed by commercially available technologies, collaborative spokesmen said in making the award. In addition, commercialization of ReGen's modified Stirling engine technology may lead to multiple economic development, cluster development and environmental benefits for Massachusetts.

Conde said he is also looking ahead to eventually developing a small residential system that incorporate photovoltaics to provide combined heat and electricity for homes.

On the Web:

You can reach Richie Davis at or (413) 772-0261 Ext. 269
This article is posted at:

Converting Waste Heat Into Power -- ReGen Power Systems
is pioneering the development of a 1-megawatt low temperature Stirling power system to convert excess process heat and steam energy at industrial plants into electricity. The system will be powered by a novel Stirling engine designed to operate at the moderate and lower temperatures found in process heating at paper mills, steel mills, chemicals and petroleum refining facilities, glass ovens, cement plants and similar locations. In addition to high efficiency, the ReGen systems will produce additional power with no new fuel combustion. Not only will Industries save money, but they can produce electricity with no new pollution emissions, enabling companies to contribute in a positive way to the environment. For more information, see a Stirling solution for on-site electrical power generation..

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