WEST PALM BEACH, FL - The technology that launched the US space shuttle has found a new home on the energy block.

“Our core strategy is wrapped around our core technology. Our liquid propulsion base generates the unique intellectual capital to extrapolate into these other markets. Energy is turning out to be a very nice fit for this kind of technology,” Jim Maser, President of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne told World- Gen during a one-on-one interview held in Florida on P & W’s Media Day. “We’re pursuing an energy portfolio that has levels of technology maturity across the portfolio.” The most mature is solar energy.

Jim Maser, President of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne with Dick Flanagan

In the ‘90’s, PWR had a demo solar plant installed with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and with DOE on the Solar Two Project, a 10 megawatt pilot facility using a Concentrated Solar Power Tower with thermal storage. The CSP Tower technology uses thousands of articulating mirrors, tracking the sun and reflecting solar energy to a receiver mounted on a 600 foot tall tower. Liquefied molten salt is circulated into the receiver, where it is heated to about 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, than stored in a large insulated tank. Molten salt can be stored for days with little heat loss. PWR provided the worldwide exclusive license to Solar Reserve.

Solar Reserve LLC, headquartered in Santa Monica, CA, is a solar energy project development company developing largescale solar energy projects worldwide. Since its formation in late 2007, Solar Reserve’s team of power project professionals have assembled a concentrated solar power development portfolio of more than 25 projects featuring its licensed solar power technology with potential output of more than 3,000 megawatts in the United States and Europe with early stage activities in other international markets. Solar Reserve’ experienced management team has previously developed and financed more than $15 billion in renewable and conventional energy projects in more than a dozen countries around the world.

Solar Reserve’s lead projects in the U.S. include the Crescent Dunes Energy project in Tonopah, Nevada and Rice Solar Energy project in Riverside County, California. Both projects are set to break ground in 2011. The projects will generate more than 1,110 on-site construction jobs.

The 110 megawatt Crescent Dunes Solar Energy project located in Nye County, Nevada was designated by the Department of Interior as a fast-track applicant for right of way use of federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The project secured a 25 year power purchase agreement with NV Energy.

The 150 megawatt Rice Solar Energy project in Riverside County, California secured a 25 year power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric Company. Solar Reserve applied for participation in the Loan Guarantee Program under the DOE’s July 2009 solicitation for innovative renewable technologies pursuant to Section 1705 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Both projects successfully advanced through Parts I and II of the DOE’s extensive application review process. DOE and Solar Reserve are advancing the arrangements for the financing terms and conditions available under the DOE’s Section 1705 program.

“We currently have no ownership interest in Solar Reserve, but we are supporting them to get a DOE loan guaranteed,” Maser said. “We have an exclusive source of supply and they’ve provided additional funding for engineering activity.”

In June, 2010, PWR received a $10.2 million award from the DOE to lower costs and increase CSP Power Tower capacity using PWR’s engineering expertise to optimize system performance and efficiency and using advanced manufacturing techniques that better absorb energy.

“In parallel we’re working other technologies such as coal gasification and we’re in the process of maturing that technology,” Maser added. “We’ve done a pilot plant, running over seven hundred hours at the Gasification Technology Institute in Illinois.”

GTI is advancing coal gasifier technology with Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne for fuels, chemicals and power generation applications.

PWR installed a pilot plant scale advanced compact gasifier at GTI’s Advanced Gasification test facility in 2009. Commercial versions of the new gasifier will be about one-tenth the size of competing technologies. Drawing upon PWR’s expertise from rocket engine development, the design enables rapid start-up and shut-down and will be able to operate with all ranks of coal.

The PWR technology is expected to result in high energy conversion efficiency, consuming up to 25% less oxygen in the process. Cost for electricity generation and chemicals production is anticipated to be 15 to 25 percent lower compared with existing gasification technologies and the compact size and advanced design features will enable high availability.

With funding from PWR and its partners, GTI is conducting pilot-scale development testing of the advanced coal gasifier with a variety of feedstocks in the AGTF, including PWR’s ultra-dense phase feeding system, rapid-mixing injector, and advanced syngas cooling technology. PWR’s partners include Exxon Mobil, DOE, and Alberta Energy and Environment Solutions. “A combination of outside investors and ourselves has invested close to $100 million in gasification over the past 3 to 4 years,” Maser shared. DOE’s funds were matched. Maser sees a huge gasification market in China and India and is talking to a number of Chinese companies but no formal agreements have been signed to date.

“We’re close to being on the cusp of something fairly big here,” Maser said in conclusion. “We’re looking to start generating revenue from CSP later this year. The other portions of the energy portfolio could start generating significant growth in the 2018-20 time frame and we believe that growth could become a third of our revenues in the early 2020’s.”

World-Gen asked Maser why PWR didn’t integrate the new niche energy market products into Pratt & Whitney Power Systems. “First of all, our assessment of the solar market is relatively conservative and, having the entire plan under PWPS, presented a relatively high amount of risk,” Maser answered. “As a team we decided PWPS should back out of this. With other technology, I think that’s still a potential model.”

World-Gen also interviewed Peter Christman, President of Pratt & Whitney Power Systems on P&W’s Media Day in Florida. The PWPS portfolio presently includes the FT8 SWIFTPAC, Organic Rankine Cycle and Clipper Windpower.
“The FT8 can be twin-packed for 60 megawatts,” Christman said. “A new FT4000, the next generation industrial gas turbine, will be announced later this year.”
PWPS has more than 2,000 industrial gas turbines installed in over 50 countries worldwide.


Peter Christman, President, Pratt & Whitney's Power Systems with Dick Flanagan
“We had taken over ORC technology incubated at UTC Power called PureCycle Power System unit, using the ORC cycle, which is about a 250 kW machine. We liked the space for geothermal, biomass, and industrial waste heat processes,” Christman underscored. “We decided to make a majority investment in Turboden, an Italian manufacturer of ORC systems for over 30 years. The strategy behind the acquisition was they had a number one market position in Europe and we could leverage that position to the rest of the world.”

PWPS offers a full range of maintenance, overhaul, repair and spare parts for other OEM’S and has offices in Russia and India.

“In Russia, we have 10 people in the Moscow office and 20 service technicians in other parts of Russia,” Christman said. “They are charted to sell our entire portfolio portfolio of products but we’ve gotten good traction on both OEM equipment and aftermarket.”

In India, the Delhi office provides repair services and repairs virtually any of the frame types by Siemens, GE and others. “So as gas turbine technology continues to get penetration in the India market, the Indian market is looking for alternatives to the OEM,” he said. “Right now the work gets sent out of the country. We have a repair shop in Singapore that’s where we do the work. If we get to the point where there’s sufficient in-country volume, we would look to invest.”


PWPS acquired the balance of Clipper shares in December, 2010. “We have a facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Denver, which is really a nucleus for field service support,” he said. About 500 Liberty turbines were sold, and another 250 will be installed this year.”

World-Gen asked him to size up the market. “I think it’s a market that’s evolving fairly rapidly, although the U.S. market has been tapped down the last year and a half or so, markets outside of North America continue to grow at a fairly robust pace. There’s competition in this space, a lot of people in it, but we believe ultimately that there’s some technology that resides within UTC where we can differentiate ourselves from others. And that’s where we intend to go”.

Clipper announced a program to do a 10 megawatt turbine for offshore application in the U.K. Since UTC acquired the business, that program is currently under review. Christman said a decision would be reached within 90 days about its future.

Pratt & Whitney is a United Technologies Company, based in East Hartford, CT.