Industry veteran takes the helm

Since this is my first Editor’s Letter, I imagine that you’d like to know about my background and what my motives are for taking up this exciting role of managing editor.

Dr. Jacob Klimstra

Long ago, back in 1970, I had the privilege to start as a research engineer for Gasunie Research, part of NV Nederlandse Gasunie in the city of Groningen.

The use of natural gas was rapidly increasing in those days and many interesting challenges emerged. For example, the flames of gas-fuelled burners appeared to be less stable than those of oil burners and we had to find solutions to avoid boiler pulsations. In addition, early-generation gas turbines and gas engines, as used in gas compressor stations, suffered from vibrations and poor reliability. Via measuring, analysing, studying and testing these dynamic phenomena, we tried to find solutions together with the manufacturers, and that is how I became a specialist in prime movers.

In the early 1980s, many of problems had been solved and I feared that I would have to look for another challenge. However, fortunately for me at least, we had two energy crises in the seventies, plus the Club of Rome published its report The Limits to Growth.

Consequently, policy makers issued legislation for reducing fuel consumption and our laboratory was charged with assisting gas consumers and equipment manufacturers in finding solutions. That is when my work on the combined production of heat and power started. The very first gas engines in CHP applications were small, ranging in power from 15 kW to 150 kW. These engines were primarily diesel engines converted to gas, but many reliability problems emerged. The monopolistic electricity companies initially refused to connect the CHP units to the distribution grid because they feared voltage instabilities. However, we could showed via statistical theory and real-life tests that having multiple smaller generators connected to the grid could provide a higher stability and security of supply than a few large power plants.

CHP and on-site power production was seen as a preferred way of using gas by my employer. In order to improve the reliability and efficiency of the prime movers, the CEO personally asked me to set up an engine testing laboratory at Gasunie Research. Many well-known manufacturers sent engines to our facility and our dedicated team helped them carry out improvements. We also assisted in developing burners for gas turbines. All our innovations/solutions were made known via conference papers and magazine articles.

In 2000, Gasunie’s activities were unbundled and the obligation to improve the processes of customers disappeared. I found a new position as an energy and engine specialist with the Finnish manufacturer Wärtsilä and had many happy years there. For them, I travelled to almost every corner of the world, highlighting the benefits of local generation to the end-user.

At the end of 2009, I set-up my own consultancy to serve the sector, and not long after I began to work with Pennwell on its POWER-GEN conference portfolio In co-operation with Wärtsilä, I also wrote a sizeable part of the Smart Power Generation book. And now there is this new challenge of being managing editor of COSPP. I sincerely believe in the benefits of cogeneration and on-site power production. Spreading that message is still needed. I am counting on you, dear readers, to help me in keeping this magazine interesting and valuable.

Jacob Klimstra
Managing Editor

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