December 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

December 16, 2012 – Vol.17 No. 40

by Bruce Mulliken, Green Energy News

Take a moment to go into a land of make-believe. Imagine yourself as molecule of some kind of gas, say methane, or perhaps a molecule of water in form of steam. You’re in a confined space, like a pipe or a tank. You’re not alone. There are thousands, millions, just like you, all around. In fact there’s too many of you in your prison. You want to get out. So do they. All off you. You’re all full of energy, moving about. You want to get out of your confinement. You’re banging into each other. You’re slamming into the walls of your jail cell, this pipe or tank you’re in. There’s so many of you hitting against the walls you’re putting pressure – lots of it – on those impenetrable surfaces. If those walls could crack, break, explode…. you’d be free!

But the walls don’t break. They hold. They’re strong. You keep moving about. Looking for a new escape. Suddenly you find something different in the wall. It’s like door. You push against it with all your energy. It moves a little. Other molecules see what you’re doing. They rush to your side and push too. This door thing moves. It opens! You’re through! You’ve escaped that pressurized cell. You’re on the other side! You’re free, but you’re exhausted. It’s taken most of your energy to open that door. Your energy has been transferred to the movement of the door.

If the world you lived in as molecule of gas was, perhaps, a network of natural gas pipelines, what you’ve just gone through in your escape was to pass through a pressure regulator of some sort. You see, where there are gases under pressure, often pressure is too high. It has to be reduced so it can be worked with for common applications, perhaps burning as a fuel on a kitchen stove. The gas pressure has to be regulated, or “letdown” to be useable. The process of letdown is a transfer of energy from the pressure of the gas to a regulating or letdown device. In the process of regulating the gas, the energy once in the gas is usually wasted. However, with the right device the energy in the pressurized gas can be captured and put to work, providing new usable energy, like electricity.

At least one device is now available to capture the wasted, and free, energy of letdown pressure. Here are some words from a company press release:


Helix Power Generators, Inc. is an authorized worldwide dealer for Langson Energy, Inc. and sells, services, and maintains the device known as the Gas Letdown Generator or GLG. If you have steam or a natural gas valve or regulator on your premises, we may have a solution to convert that wasted letdown pressure into affordable, clean electrical power that you can use. The device co-generates power and cooling and qualifies as CHP. How much power you can produce with the Gas Letdown Generator depends primarily on how much flow you have and how much pressure is reduced.

The equipment is priced at less than $2000/kW for units larger than 100 kW and gives you a cost of power at around 3 cents/kWh. Recover your investment in less than three years. The machine is built to last in excess of twenty years using an off the shelf twin helical screw technology. Bearing replacement maintenance is every 50,000 hours or about every five years, giving you an operational cost of about 1/4 of a cent/kW. The energy is clean and green with zero-emissions. There are no fuel costs as the GLG is driven by flow and the reduction in pressure which is normally wasted.

Just need horsepower? No problem. Use the GLG to directly drive a pump, compressor, or other equipment.

NO TAX PAYER DOLLARS WERE USED TO DEVELOP THIS TECHNOLOGY, says Helix, which goes to describe the market potential:

The U.S. natural gas pipeline network is a highly integrated transmission grid that delivers natural gas to and from nearly any location in the lower 48 States. It is comprised of more than 210 natural gas pipeline systems; 305,000 miles of interstate and intrastate transmission pipeline; more than 1,400 compressor stations that maintain pressure on the network and ensure continuous forward movement of supplies; more than 11,000 delivery points, 5,000 receipt points, and 1,400 interconnection points that provide for the transfer of natural gas throughout the United States. The pipeline grid efficiently and safely moves more than 20 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas annually to residential, commercial and industrial consumers.

Generally the transportation pipeline system operates at higher pressures required to transport the gas over great distance and this pressure must be reduced to levels required by the end users. This is accomplished at millions of pressure letdown stations (also called city gates) located throughout the system, where pressure is regulated through mechanical regulating devices such as control valves or regulators. These devices reduce the pressure to the required level but the energy contained in this pressure is simply wasted.

Pressure letdown is accomplished in stages and at multiple locations throughout the system (e.g. 1000 psi to 600 psi, 600 psi to 250 psi, 250 psi to 100 psi, etc.) There are literally millions of pressure letdown locations in the world handling sufficient pressure to produce Gigawatts of power.


Remember, at the beginning of the story that in your make believe world, you could also be a molecule of water in the form a steam? The same device, when operating with steam, the is referred to as the “Total Flow Generator”. Most the power generated on the power grid is through the generation of stream by the burning of a fuel or through the heat of a nuclear reaction. The Langston Total Flow generator provides another option to convert steam to electric power. It has also created new opportunities to capture wasted steam in industrial or commercial applications and convert it to electric energy.

This story doesn’t end there either. Pressurized gases, when they are let go from their confinement and expand, release all their heat, and, in fact, get quite cold – the principal behind refrigeration. As an additional use the Gas Letdown Generator or GLG can also provide refrigeration. Since the device co-generates power and cooling and qualifies as CHP.

New applications seem possible for this technology as well. What if the GLG was used to turn intermittent solar or wind energy into steady, base load, round-the-clock electric power? Instead of feeding power to the grid, when wind turbines were churning or solar panels baking in the Sun, they were powering electric compressors that pressurized a gas – which could be air – in large tanks. Storing the energy of the wind or solar as a pressurized gas would allow the energy to be tapped at anytime of the day. The duration or runtime would only be limited to the size or number of tanks. This is a simple, ready to build, off-the-shelf technology. A guess is that it would be far cheaper to build than expensive rechargeable batteries.

Helix Power Generators was recognized for its Langson Gas Letdown Generator at the Total Energy USA Conference and Exposition recently held in Houston, Texas. The Chairman’s Innovation Award showcases newly developed concepts and products in a variety of areas such as advancement of technology, improved efficiency, increased marketability, cost savings, environmental impact, enhanced market position and more.

Helix currently offers Gas Letdown Generators in 250 kW, 500 kW and 1 MW sizes.



Helix Power Generators

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