This is an update on a previous UFTO Note (see below).

Progress is good. The first machine is hooked to a 10 MW generator, and it’s doing better and better all the time. They’re also working hard on a 800 KW version, which will enable them to advance the technology faster, and which is size they believe the DG market wants. The disk on the new machine will be 32 inches, operating at 28,000 rpm. Efficiency is 40%, and they expect single-digit NOx.

The company was featured two weeks ago in an article in the Puget Sound Business Journal, available on the company’s website:

A core group of local investors has been more than willing to provide as much money as needed, so there hasn’t been other corporate or VC participation in the past. Now, however, the company has decided to engage CSFB to do a $30 Million formal private offering for them.

For information, contact:
Bill Craver, Credit Suisse First Boston, San Francisco

On request, he can send you “Prelim. Information Materials” (aka the “teaser”)


The RAMGEN Engine [UFTO Note – Ramgen Engine 03 Mar 1999]

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
Glenn Smith, VP Sales & Marketing
RAMGEN Power Systems, Bellevue, WA 425-828-4919
Company website:

Zero Emission Engine

At the risk of “excess exuberance” …this looks like something that could change everything — a zero emission, fuel flexible– *steam engine*.

I first heard of them from announcements back in May 2000, and have finally been able to make contact, just in time to learn about the new company they’ve set up. They’re showcasing at the SAE conf (Soc. of Auto Engineers) in Detroit this week. My contact is Oliver Mehler, who’s heading the operation in the US.

I have the executive summary of their business plan, which seeks to raise 22 million Euros over the next four years.. The full 60 pg plan is now only in German, and they are preparing an English version.

The management team is in Detroit this week (only Oliver is stationed in the US). If you have anyone attending the SAE conference, you may want to have them visit the booth.

I asked what was different about this steam engine, and Oliver described a visit to a major US engine manufacturer. It was scheduled for 1 person for 45 minutes, and wound up with 12 people for 3 hours. They said “we tried (and failed) –you solved all the problems which stopped us” (e.g. lubrication materials, isothermal expansion, quick load changes, good combustion system). The website has neat pictures of their 6 kw APU prototype, which they estimate will be made for a cost of $700, in volumes of 10,000/yr. They are talking to corporations, financiers and VCs to raise money. They want manufacturing partners. — go to “Press” for the complete press release (excerpts below) and a pdf download brochure about the APU. I’ve also got a 12 page technical article from a year ago that explains the thermodynamics.
Oliver C. Mehler, Ann Arbor, MI
734-971-1070 ext. 111

Note- IAV is a major European automotive engineering company, 50% owned by VW. Enginion is spinning off with most of the development team that worked on the project. Since public (EU) funding was involved, it was deemed inappropriate for VW to have it to themselves.

Enginion AG Says New Engine is ‘Cleaner Than the Air we Breathe’
‘Zero Emission Engine’ Debuts at SAE World Congress In Detroit

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Feb. 28 /PRNewswire/ — Enginion AG, a technology provider for the automotive and energy industry plans to demonstrate an ‘Equal Zero Emission Engine’ (Ezee) at next week’s SAE World Congress in Detroit. The new technology does not require any catalysts. The Ezee uses external combustion that is based on a patented ‘Caloric Porous Structure Cell’ (CPS Cell), utilizing a newly developed thermo-chemical combustion reaction, which drives an electronically controlled, oil free thermal engine.

The technology has been developed with funding by the European Union as well as various institutions of the German government. It took six years and nearly one million man-hours of basic research to reach the stage of development presented at SAE. “The new drive appears to have the potential of substituting conventional combustion engines,” said Michael Hoetger, President of Enginion. “Its emissions profile is among the lowest of any existing combustion technology. At the same time its production price is expected to be equal or lower than current powertrains.” The technology incorporates the following benefits:

– Lowest pollutant emissions (no HC; NOx and CO at the limit of
measurability) No exhaust after-treatment needed
– Very high torque (5 times higher than regular Otto-cycle engines);
power output and dynamics are equivalent to diesel engines
– Fuel flexibility (gasoline, diesel, natural gas,
biofuels, hydrogen, etc.)
– Thermal and kinetic energy (both variable)
– High efficiency (better than gasoline engines,
according to U.S. FTP75 test cycle)
– Almost silent and vibration free
– Compact size
– Oil free; operation in ecologically sensitive areas possible
– Lower cost than existing technologies

Based on the encouraging research results, Hoetger and his colleagues initially plan to develop small Auxiliary Power Units (APU), as the fuel flexible and compact technology can deliver variable heat and electricity over a broad power range. The areas of application stretch from mobile use in vehicles to stationary operation in residential and industrial environments.

Enginion’s Ezee technology is further suited to build up stationary distributed power systems. With its co-generation capabilities (heat and electricity) it could deliver clean energy for residential as well as commercial purposes. In one of the largest market segments with heat outputs of up to 30 kW and a maximum electricity of 10 kW, the Ezee APU might be up to 90% cheaper than other solutions, including fuel cells and gas turbines. The APU’s electronic control shall additionally be equipped with networking capabilities for the development of small-scale local grids.

Enginion plans to stay focused on research and development rather than becoming an engine producer themselves. Instead, they want to offer partnerships to professional manufacturers. “With our technology and product development skills we would develop the Ezee products ready for application” Hoetger summarized. “The production partners pay only a few dollars per unit for the production license. This way they can independently set their profit margins and use own distribution channels without our interference. But I think it might take quite a number of manufacturers in the long term. All studies we found indicated that the potential markets have a total business volume beyond US$200 billion,” Hoetger said.

Fuel Cell Seminar, CADER/DPCA

Fuel Cell Seminar
30 Oct – 2 Nov 2000, Portland, OR

This is the major Fuel Cell event, held every two years. The last one was in Palm Springs. There was a huge turnout -over 2000 people, with lots of financial types and corporations represented. It was a strange kind of transitional hybrid between a professional technical conference and an industry trade show. The exhibitions were far more lavish than ever before.

My own foremost impression – it is not about fuel cells. It’s about the fuel. The fuel cell is the easy part. Getting fuel for it (espec PEM) is the hard part. The great majority of papers and discussion revolved around fuel processing.

Most often heard new (to me) jargon — “fromwellhead to wheel”. This refers to need to take the efficiency of entire fuel cycle into account– for example methanol has already sacrificed energy content by the time it’s made. Reformer hydrogen has less energy content than the fossil fuel you start with.


Abstracts of the 2000 Fuel Cell Seminar. The book given to attendees is about 1.5 ” thick. Also on a CD. ( a set of 250 pdf files, totalling over 83 MB) The book or the CD may be available for purchase from the conference sponsors. Contact:
“Wiesenfeld, Susan”
The new 5th edition of the DOE Fuel Cell Handbook (Oct 2000) was handed out at the Seminar. Will be available on the NETL website. (I have the CD…main pdf file is 3.5 Meg which I can email on request)
To order the CD

[web tip] — The NETL website has its fuelcell materials under the Strategic Center for Natural Gas/End-Use. The “News” is particularly useful:
A couple of choice items:
–The Fall 2000 issue of Fuel Cell Catalyst [PDF-70KB] is now available. This is a new free quarterly newsletter for the fuel cell industry, reporting on government and industry fuel cell issues, including: special themes focused on particular segments of the industry, in-depth looks at federal fuel cell programs, and reports from companies on the status of their own research.
Subscribe at
–The final solicitation [PDF-498KB] for DOE’s Strategic Center for Natural Gas new fuel cell initiative, called the Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance, or SECA, was posted 11/3/00. The goal of SECA is to accelerate the development of the industry based needed to produce low-cost solid-state fuel cells.
Several key reports are available at the DOE Office of Transportation website:

-Challenges for Transportation Fuel Cells: Fuel Processing and Cost – October 2000

-A.D. Little Fuel Cell Cost Study–Cost Analysis of Fuel Cell System for Transportation – March 2000
Solicitation Number: DE-RP04-01AL67057
Description: Solicitation for financial assistance applications for research, development and analysis of automotive and stationary fuel cell power systems, fuels for fuel cells, and Compression Ignition Direct Injection (CIDI) engines.
(download full solicitation document available 851 KB)