Efficient power from pipeline letdown pressure

June 28 2012 - TI Staff

A device known as the Gas Letdown Generator is said to be an efficient power generating system which converts wasted letdown pressure from pipelines into affordable electrical power that businesses can use for their own power needs or sell as excess power. 

(A Gas Letdown Generator power system. Picture sourced from Helix Power Generators, Inc.)

Helix Power Generators, Inc. is an authorized dealer for Langson Energy, Inc., which promotes, sells and services the device. According to Rick Dixon, president and owner of Helix Power Generators, Inc., the device is capable of directly using and exploiting the energy in waste pressure from virtually any source, without heat exchangers or organic mediums to transfer energy.

The Gas Letdown Generator is priced at less than $2000/kW, and the cost of power is approximately 3 cents/kWh. A chart gives the relationship between power that can be generated by the device with the pressure drop.

The expected life of the machine is more than twenty years, and it uses an off-the-shelf twin helical screw technology. Bearing replacement maintenance is said to be required every 50,000 hours or about every five years, and the device is expected to give you an operational cost of about 1/4 of a cent/kW. There are no emissions and fuel costs as the GLG is driven by the reduction in pressure which is normally wasted.

Economic and performance advantages
The GLG is said to be a positive displacement device unaffected by variations in pressures and flows, and capable of directly utilizing the pressure found in natural gas, wet steam, dry steam, geothermal fluid, water, biogas, or similar type of pressure or steam, providing significant economic and performance advantages over traditional and non-traditional waste energy capture devices.

Dixon said the "disruptive technology" behind the device provides an efficient alternative which makes use of the wasted energy in gas pressure letdown stations and at citygates, converting this pressure into usable electricity, creating huge power cost savings. The current use of JT Valves (pressure reduction valves) where the pressure is mechanically reduced can now be supplemented with the GLG, he said.

The amount of power that can be produced with the device depends primarily on how much flow is in the pipeline and how much pressure is letdown or reduced. Typical users of the GLG include industrial companies, municipalities, local distributors, military and national defense agencies, and power producers with access to pressure reduction stations. Often, this low-cost baseload power can provide enough electricity to reduce the impact of power blackouts. Additionally, low-cost cooling and refrigeration are available by-products of the system's low outlet temperatures, said Dixon.