Microturbine power system manufacturer Capstone Turbine Corporation announced today at International POWER-GEN International conference and exhibition in Las Vegas, that several of its early production systems have passed crucial endurance milestones.

Four of Capstone’s microturbine systems, operating in widely different conditions, have exceeded 18 000, 19 000 and 25 000 hours of near-continuous operation.

All of the systems were early commercial production 30 kW model microturbines. Capstone was the first company to produce microturbine power systems, with commercial shipments beginning in December 1998.

Capstone MicroTurbine serial number 0008 was installed at a Capstone research and development facility in December 1998. It has been running nearly continuously (except for minor routine maintenance, such as air filter changes) for 25 000 hours (there are 8760 hours in a year).

Capstone MicroTurbine serial number 0029, which is currently running at the University of California, Irvine, exceeded 18 000 hours last month. Capstone MicroTurbine serial number 0019, installed at a Galveston, Texas, office of Southern Union Gas Company had operated nearly continuously in hot and humid conditions and following daily load patterns since February 1999. It has surpassed 19 500 hours of operation. With the agreement of Southern Union Gas, the Texas system will be systematically disassembled by Capstone engineers and examined for wear and tear.

Capstone MicroTurbine serial number 0053 has been operating nearly non-stop in a remote oilfield in Consort, Alberta, Canada. The unit was stopped briefly in July of this year, after surpassing 16 000 hours of operation, for an air filter replacement. The system now has more than 19 500 hours of runtime operating on wellhead “waste” gas as fuel. This waste gas contains two percent H2S, a corrosive gas that can destroy a conventional generator (the Capstone Model 330 MicroTurbine can accept up to 7 per cent H2S content).

Not all installed Capstone MicroTurbines are set to operate continuously, and not all installed systems have operated as robustly as these best-case examples.

Dr. Ake Almgren, Capstone President and CEO, said, “The performance of these units is very encouraging. Capstone’s targeted design life is 40 000 hours before major overhaul. The high endurance results of these units across a wide variety of applications and geographies is further hard data supporting that we are well under way toward that target.”

Before “going commercial” in December 1998, Capstone Turbine manufactured and deployed more than 130 pre-production microturbine power systems. These systems were installed in a wide variety of applications and environments, ranging from operating on challenging waste gases in oilfields from Canada to New Zealand to being installed as an onboard generator in the world’s first microturbine-energized hybrid electric bus. The prototype systems accumulated more than 100 000 hours of combined operation prior to Capstone’s microturbine commercialization.

“Operating a few pre-production units in our test labs was one thing,” said Capstone Senior Vice-President of Strategic Technology Development Bill Treece. “But placing units in real-world conditions was where we learned the most lessons. In our opinion, the value of that kind of wide-scale pre-production testing cannot be under-estimated. We took the lessons learned back then, and built them into the world’s first commercially viable microturbine products back in 1998.

“Now that we have built up more than one million hours of combined operation, we have been able to gradually improve the original Model 330 and expand its capabilities. For our newer Capstone 60 model, we incorporated those pre- and post-production learnings. This has resulted in the extremely robust products we offer today,” Treece said.

National Capstone distributor Montgomery Watson Harza (MHW) will be displaying a Capstone MicroTurbine in their booth No. 1209 at the international Power-Gen conference and exposition (www.power-gen.com) in Las Vegas tomorrow through December 13. MWH Energy Solutions President Steven Chippas will be leading a conference workshop on Turning Wastewater to Energy via Distributed Generation at 1:30-5 p.m. today at the World of Water Conference (www.worldofwaterexpo.com) being held in conjunction with Power-Gen.