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Infinia's solar technology entails a parabolic dish that focuses the sun's energy onto their stirling engine that uses helium in a hermetically sealed system, requiring no lubrication inside the machine, nor maintenance.
At an installation cost of $6/Watt, the system is not yet cost competitive with conventional grid power.
Infinia is the leading developer of free-piston Stirling generators ranging in sizes from tens of Watts to multiple kilowatts. Infinia also applies its free-piston technology in the development of cryogenic coolers and pressure wave generators that provide long-life, maintenance-free cooling for a variety of applications.
How it Works
- How a Stirling Engine Works - See the animated graphic on how Infinia's friction-free Stirling engine works. “There is no lubrication inside the machine, and it needs no maintenance", Sitton says. “We use helium in a hermetically sealed system".
- "Capacity Factor is location dependent and changes with DNI. Our system will average 2000 kWh/kW installed, but we range up to 2750 kWh/kW installed." Seth Poulson
- Green Company Turning Heat Into Power (KVEW42; Feb. 2008)
- KNDU - Securing major financing (KNDU; Feb. 11, 2008)
- Infinia's amazing Stirling Engines in the news. (KEPR) - clip from the news on Infinia (previously known as Stirling Technology Co.), and their exciting implementation of advanced Stirling Engine designs for solar and Combined Heating and Power (CHP) applications. (YouTube; February 16, 2008)
(2 minutes, 8 seconds)
- (KNDU) - Similar story with more information. (YouTube; Feb. 16, 2008)
- Infinia Corp Presentation - A presentation at the Alternative Energy User Group by Seth Poulson and Rocco Luongo. Alternative Energy User Group; Jan 4, 2008)
The Infinia Solar Stirling System for 3.3KW is targeted to be around $20K USD. (~$6/Watt)
The design characteristics of free-piston machines provide significant benefits over other power generation technologies and even other Stirling engine and cooler designs. Infinia free-piston machines utilize clearance seals, proven flexure bearings, and hermetically sealed designs with zero maintenance and demonstrated long life.
Combined Heat and Power - The ENATEC consortium in the Netherlands and Rinnai in Japan both use Infinia Stirling generator technology in their residential CHP systems.
Remote Power - Partnering with NASA Glenn Research Center, Infinia developed the first dynamic power technology reliable enough for use in space exploration.
Working closely with Lockheed Martin, the United States Department of Energy (DOE), and NASA, Infinia developed and tested the Stirling Convertor Assemblies used in the first Stirling Radioisotope Generator (SRG) systems planned for use in deep space exploration missions. Infinia has redefined the state of the art for radioisotope-fueled power by achieving challenging milestones and introducing new technologies. Here are a few of the things Infinia's team accomplished:
- Developed the world's first dynamic power system reliable enough for use in space.
- Advanced underlying technology from proof of concept to system-level pre-flight testing
- Delivered over 20 Stirling Convertor Assemblies meeting nuclear quality assurance standards
- Exceeded power output requirements by over 15%
- Increased Power Density from 12 Watts/kg to 36 Watt/kg
- Proved long life and reliability through ongoing endurance testing which has accumulated over 100,000 hours (11 years) of run time with zero maintenance
Reliable Electricity for Extreme Environments - Infinia designs energy systems that provide extremely reliable electricity efficiently and with minimum pollution. Examples of how their approach will pay off for the military include:
- A mobile field kitchen (MKT) retrofit that will eliminate the need for a separate diesel generator and save up to $1,000 worth of fuel per week by cooking food rations while it generates electricity
- A micro-CHP system that will eliminate the need for a separate environmental control unit by heating or cooling temporary buildings while providing electrical power
- An APU for large transport and combat vehicles that enables them to shut down their main engines without losing communications, sensors or other on-board electronics
Reverse Chronological Sequence
2008 - Broke new ground for 27,000 square foot production facility.
2007-2008 - Received $50 million in VC capital to begin manufacturing the Solar Sterling Engine for use in commercial installations later in 2008.
- Investors list - Infinia Corporation announced that it closed on a $50 million Series B Preferred Stock financing round led by GLG Partners with participation from Wexford Capital LLC and prior investors Vulcan Capital, Khosla Ventures, EQUUS Total Return, Inc., Idealab and Power Play Energy, LLC. (Cossacks Breaking News; Feb. 11, 2008)
2005-2006 – Infinia delivers over 20 Stirling radioisotope generators
2004 – Infinia demonstrates world’s first multi-cylinder free-piston Stirling engine
2004 – Infinia reaches 10 year milestone in the on-going, maintenance-free test of their Infinia designed Stirling generator
2004-2005 – Infinia develops a Diesel/Biodiesel fueled Combined Heat and Power system for the US Army’s Mobile Kitchen Trailer
2002 – Infinia begins working with Lockheed Martin Aerospace, system integrator for the Stirling radioisotope Generator (SRG-110)
2001 – Infinia develops an 8 kW pressure wave generator for American Superconductor
2000 – Infinia demonstrates a 1 kWe Stirling generator operating on solar power at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Solar Furnace
1999-2002 – Infinia develops a specialized 3 kWe Stirling generator for Pennsylvania State University’s Applied Research Laboratory
1999-2001 – Infinia demonstrates a biomass-fueled Stirling generator for DOE
1999-2001 – Infinia develops a 1 kWe Stirling generator for ENATEC’s Residential Combined Heat and Power system
1997-1999 – Infinia develops active dynamic balancing to reduce vibration of Stirling space power convertors for NASA deep space probes
1997 – Infinia develops a series of lightweight cryocoolers for Decade Optical Systems’ laser research
1997-2002 – Infinia develops two-engine space power subsystem to demonstrate Free-Piston machine technology for NASA
1995-1997 – Infinia pioneers dual-opposed operation of Stirling engines to limit vibration-induced pixel smear for NASA deep space probes
1993-1995 – Infinia develops an integral Stirling Joule Thompson cryocooler for low temperature (4K) applications at NASA
1991-1993 – Infinia develops a 10 W Stirling generator prototype for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
1991-1994 – Infinia develops a hybrid solar/natural gas power system for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
1991 – Infinia develops a low vibration pulse tube cryocooler for NASA spacecraft
1990 – Infinia develops a CFC-free Stirling refrigeration system for DOE’s Dawnbreaker program to help save the ozone layer
1989 – Infinia creates a low vibration Stirling cryocooler for NASA experiments
1988 – Infinia develops a long-life, high reliability cryocooler capable of lifting 250 W at 77K to cool supercomputers for UT Carrier and IBM
1986-1988 – Infinia designs a 25 kWe solar-electric Stirling power system for NASA and DOE to produce utility-scale power in solar dish "farms"
1984 – Infinia founders provide concept and design support for Rockwell International SP-100 Stirling Engine Conversion System project to develop a free-piston Stirling engine for space exploration.
1967-1992 – Infinia founders develop a Thermal Ventricular Assist System (Heart Assist Pump) for the National Institutes of Health
- NASA Tech Briefs - (BNET Business Network; Apr. 2001)
- Technology Development for a Stirling Radioisotope Power System - (NASA/TM; Jan 30, 2000)
The first Solar Stirling Engine prototype went online last October (2007) and J. D. Sitton says Infinia is building a second at Sandia. Field tests will be conducted later this year (2008) in California and Nevada.
- Patents and Know-How - No less than 18 Patents have been awarded to the Infinia Team since 1985.
US Patent 5,920,133 Flexure Bearing Support Assemblies with Particular Application to Stirling Engines
US Patent 5,743,091 Heater Head and Regenerator Assemblies for Thermal Regenerative Machines
US Patent 5,918,463 Burner Assembly for Heater Head of a Stirling Cycle Machine
US Patent 6,050,092 Stirling Cycle Generator Control System and Method for Regulating Displacement Amplitude of Moving Members
US Patent 6,930,414 Linear Electrodynamic System and Method
US Patent 6,931,848 Stirling Engine Having Platelet Heat Exchanging Elements
US Patent 6,952,921 Heater Head Assembly System and Method
US Patent 7,089,735 Channelized Stratified Regenerator System and Method
US Patent 7,134,279 Double Acting Thermodynamically Resonant Free-Piston Multi-Cylinder Stirling System and Method
US Patent 7,137,251 Channelized Stratified Regenerator with Integrated Heat Exchangers System and Method
US Patent 5,647,217 Stirling Cycle Cryogenic Cooler
US Patent 6,094,912 Apparatus and Method for Adaptively Controlling Moving Members within a Closed Cycle Thermal Regenerative Machine
Vibration Control and Components
US Patent 5,522,214 Flexure Bearing Support with Particular Applications to Stirling Machines
US Patent 5,895,033 Passive Balance System for Machines
US Patent 5,642,618 Combination Gas Spring and Flexure Spring Construction for Free-Piston Machines
US Patent 5,315,190 & 5,654,596 Linear Electrodynamic Machine and Method of Using Same
US Patent 6,933,629 Active Balance System and Vibration Balanced Machine
US Patent 6,809,486 Active Vibration and Balance System for Closed Cycle Thermodynamic Machines
Infinia Corporation is a privately held company that has been involved in Stirling technology development since 1985 beginning with a heart-assist pump. Later, NASA used the engines on Mars. Today, they provide Stirling engines for a variety of industries. The latest engine is used in the Solar industry.
November 21 , 2006 - Jack Augenblick, and Songgang Qiu are awarded a patent for microchannel regenerators.
November 14 , 2006 - Maury White, Jack Augenblick, and Allen Peterson are awarded a patent for the free-piston multi-cylinder Stirling engine.
August 15, 2006 - Jack Augenblick, and Songgang Qiu are awarded a patent for microchannel heat exchangers.
Stirling Convertor Performance Mapping Test Results for Future Radioisotope Power Systems
Author(s): Qiu, Songgang; Peterson, Allen A.; Faultersack, Franklyn D.; Redinger, Darin L.; Augenblick, John E.
- Long-life radioisotope-fueled generators based on free-piston Stirling convertors are an energy-conversion solution for future space applications. The high efficiency of Stirling machines makes them more attractive than the ...
NASA Center: Glenn Research Center
Publication Year: 2004
Added to NTRS: 2005-09-29
Document ID: 20040020190
Dynamic Analysis and Test Results for an STC Stirling Generator
Author(s): Qiu, Songgang; Peterson, Allen A.
- Long-life, high-efficiency generators based on free-piston Stirling machines are a future energy-conversion solution for both space and commercial applications. To aid in design and system integration efforts, Stirling ...
NASA Center: Glenn Research Center
Publication Year: 2004
Added to NTRS: 2005-09-29
Document ID: 20040020191
- Infinia Organization - About Infinia, July, 7, 2005.
In the News
- Big Things Happening at Kennewick Corporation - In order to ramp of production, Infinia is building a new production facility in Kennewick. Work is being completed on a 27,000 square foot facility near Vista Field. The company is also expected to increase their workforce to about 150 employees by next year to meet expected product demand. (KVEW TV; Aug. 15, 2008)
- Hot kilowatts: Infinia, Stirling Energy Systems, eSolar get money - Stirling Energy Systems announced a $100 million investment. Infinia said it has taken an additional $7 million, part of a total of $57 million in a Series B round. eSolar said it has raised $130 million from Idealab and Google.org. (CNET; Apr. 22, 2008)
- A second round of funding - "We have at least a dozen term sheets in play that would represent our first customers," said Gregg Clevenger, chief financial officer for Infinia. (GreenTech Media; Feb. 11, 2008)
- Latest Buzz - News coverage, Media Clips and Press releases.
- Infinia solar energy generator gets $50 million investment - Infinia Corp. is a step closer to producing and marketing its 3-kilowatt solar energy generating unit, thanks to a $50 million investment by private equity funds. (Tri-City Herald; Feb. 12, 2008)
- Infinia - 3 kW Solar Stirling product for commercial and residential users will generate electricity more efficiently and economically than Photovoltaic (PV) systems. It concentrates sunlight on a free-piston Stirling engine made from common materials using low-cost manufacturing techniques, delivering a net system efficiency of over 24%. Product available early 2008. (PESWiki News; Sept. 13, 2006)
- Kennewick's Infinia Corp. receives award from state association - Kennewick’s Infinia Corp. recently was named Small Manufacturer of the Year by the Association of Washington Business. (Tri-City Herald; May 25, 2008}
The award recognizes Infinia’s efforts to promote a new way to generate solar energy for a variety of applications.
- Infinia's Sterling Engine - Review of Infinia's Sterling Solar Engine technology. (macCompanion; Sept 2007)
- The New Generation Infinia Free-Piston Stirling Engine for Micro-CHP and Remote Power Applications - This paper reviews Infinia’s free-piston Stirling technology development and latest technology advancements as they relate to the next generation Infinia 3.1-kW free-piston engine for micro-CHP and remote power applications. (3rd International Energy Conversion Engineering Conference; Aug. 15 - 18 2005, San Francisco, California)
- Another solar power plant play for Khosla, Idealab - Infinia CEO J.D. Sitton tells Green Wombat that his company has perfected the Stirling dish to make it competitive with large-scale solar thermal as well as new photovoltaic technologies like thin-film solar. (Green Wombat; Feb 19, 2008)
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