Written by Kevin Volz.
As more and more countries become industrial, global electricity production continues to skyrocket. The amount of electricity produced worldwide has doubled in the last 20 years — and it’s predicted to increase another 60% by 2030. The result is an increase in high-temperature manufacturing facilities that release a lot of heat and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Echogen Power Systems in Akron, Ohio, takes the wasted heat from these manufacturing processes and turns it into a high-value power source.
“We’ve created a clean power source for industry, reusing a manufacturing byproduct that already exists,” said Philip Brennan, CEO and founder of Echogen Power Systems. “Our goal is to improve global sustainability and provide our customers with a source of low-cost, emission-free electricity.”
Echogen Power Systems’ technology acts as a more efficient, compact and water-free replacement for steam-powered electricity. Rather than using pressurized water as the primary source of energy, the company uses pressurized carbon dioxide waste from high-temperature cement and steel plants, oil and gas refineries, and gas turbines for power. It’s the first commercial-scale waste heat recovery system that uses carbon dioxide as its working fluid.
“As environmental regulations continue to require manufacturing to become more efficient, we feel that waste or exhaust heat is one of the most valuable and the lowest cost sources of clean power,” said Brennan. “In the United States alone there is potential to recover over 10,000 megawatts of wasted power. With our technology, we can reclaim that waste.”
Using carbon dioxide rather than water for power means companies can utilize Echogen Power Systems’ technology in climates or locations where water is scarce. The system is also much more compact than traditional steam power machines with both installation and operating costs that are 30 to 40 percent lower.
Brennan and his co-founder Michael Gurin created Echogen Power Systems in 2007. Gurin had licensed a similar carbon dioxide based process from NASA, and the two started their company to refine the technology and commercialize their product.
Echogen Power Systems has received approximately $80 million in investments, licenses and grants to date, including $4.3 million from Ohio Third Frontier, which was used to build the company’s first demo system. Brennan and Gurin also work with JumpStart, a northeast Ohio partner of Ohio Third Frontier, utilizing the organization’s mentoring network for business counsel.
The next phase of Echogen Power Systems’ growth is getting underway. The company’s technology was recently approved for sale and the company will soon start installing units. The goal is to have its first five to 10 commercial units in operation in the next few years.
Brennan, an immigrant to the United States from Ireland, says he could have chosen to live and work anywhere in the world but decided on northeast Ohio.
“Your dollar lasts longer here than it would on the coasts, and the workforce in the area has a great work ethic,” said Brennan. “We have developed a very loyal and dedicated team that started with just two employees and is now up to 18. We’re excited about the future and continuing our growth here in Ohio.”