The Ramgen engine is based on the ramjet, the earliest form of jet engine and one still used on missiles. A ram jet gets its thrust from burning fuel in air compressed by its forward motion, then expelling the exhaust to create a forward force.
In the Ramgen engine, two ramjet thrust modules are mounted opposite each other at the perimeter of a 6 foot diameter rotor, in a kind of pinwheel configuration. The rim speed exceeds Mach 2.5. The engine’s axle then drives a generator through a gearbox.
Ramgen Power Systems, Inc. (WA) has just begun full testing of a full scale prototype, following ten years of work by its inventor, and the infusion 2 years ago of over $6 million from private investors. On February 2, 1999, the engine was the successfully ignited for the first time. It is currently generating compression at or above projected values; it is starting reliably and is creating combustion and power as anticipated; it is maintaining combustion after ignition; and the air film and other cooling systems are functioning effectively at current fuel loads.
The magnitude of the centrifugal forces generated at these speeds requires advanced, high-performance materials, which have only recently become commercially available (i.e. declassified), as have the computer modeling and machining techniques to manufacture the rotor to required tolerances. While sophisticated in design and modeling, the Ramgen has only a single moving part, the rotor and axle. It is designed to be maintained and work reliably in developing countries and isolated areas.
The Ramgen engine is a Brayton cycle engine that uses compressible gas dynamic phenomena and replaces the mechanical compression and expansion systems of conventional combustion engines with oblique shock wave and supersonic processes. In the Ramgen engine, the fuel and air mixture is compressed as it enters the thrust module, thereby removing the need to mechanically compress either the fuel or the combustion air. The engine’s burner operates on lean premix combustion to minimize NOx formation.
US Patent No 5709076 was awarded on Jan 20, 1999, and others are pending.
The performance of the Ramgen engine results from its efficient compression and expansion of the air/fuel mix within the thrust modules. The Ramgen engine’s inherently simpler design makes it less expensive to construct, operate and maintain than competing systems for electric power generation. The company anticipates that Ramgen will have:
– $400-450/KW capital cost (excluding site/development costs)
– 40-50% simple cycle efficiency
– around 2% efficiency loss down to 20% part-load
– very low emissions (NOx below 5 ppm)
– ability to operate on a wide range of fuels
(including oilfield and platform flare gases,
or caustic gases as low as 4% fuel by volume)
– small footprint (8-10 MW engine fits on a standard truck trailer)
With cooling by water-jacket and supercooled air, parts experience temperatures around 300 deg F. The exhaust is at 1230 deg.F, enabling combined cycle or cogen applications.
The prototype currently operating at a test facility in Tacoma, WA, can be configured to produce up to 15 MW. The company believes that the Ramgen engine can be scaled to produce electrical output ranging from 1 to 40 MW. The first commercial units (in the 8-15 MW range) could be available by early 2001. The company is in the process of finalizing additional financing.
Doug Jewett, President and CEO firstname.lastname@example.org
Glenn Smith, VP Sales & Marketing email@example.com
RAMGEN Power Systems, Bellevue, WA 425-828-4919
Company website: http://www.ramgen.com