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Transmission-Based Power Generator

ARPA-E Award: 
Detroit, MI
Project Term: 
01/06/2016 to 04/05/2017
Project Status: 
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
In the event of power outages and emergencies, transportable, small-scale power generators (typically 100kW systems mounted on trailers) can be used to generate onsite power. However, these generators can be costly to operate for long periods and often run in short supply after disasters. One approach is integrating power generation into a truck transmission, potentially creating a cost-efficient generator. This approach shows great promise, as most of the elements required to create a cost-effective distributed generation system already exist in a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). Merging power generation capacity with a flex-fuel PHEV system has the potential to create a new cost-effective and easily scalable form of distributed power generation.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Inventev is developing a proof-of-concept for a commercially viable generator system that is integrated with a truck transmission. The project will involve the design and fabrication of transmission and power electronics subsystems, integration of those systems into a Ford F550 chassis-cab truck, and conversion of the standard gasoline engine to a low-pressure natural gas engine. The project aims to create a 120kW low-cost, low-emission mobile power generator using natural gas with a cost target of 6-to-7 cents per kilowatt-hour. Of particular significance is the ability to use the same devices (i.e. electric machine motor/generators) that electrically propel a vehicle to become generators for exporting 3-phase grid-quality power. If successful, this technology could be used to create fleets of trucks with inherent power generating capability that could be deployed to enable electrical grid resiliency from interruptions or used short-term for low-cost nimble and localized generating capacity.
Potential Impact: 
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Jason Rugolo
Project Contact: 
Mr. David Stenson
New Eagle
Release Date: