MAN launches new design

MAN B&W Diesel has developed a new gas engine equipped with a novel start-up and ignition system that requires no spark plugs. The new engine – the 32/40PGI – has been operating for one year in the company’s Augsberg, Germany facility and is now ready for deployment in commercial projects, says MAN B&W Diesel.

The abbreviation PGI stands for Performance Gas Injection, denoting the new ignition system, which has enabled MAN to combine the advantages of a diesel engine, such as high power density and high efficiency, with the benefits of a gas engine.

The PGI system works by injecting a small quantity of ignition gas into a separate pre-chamber. It is ignited on a hot surface and initiates the ignition of a lean air-gas mixture in the main combustion chamber. The result is an engine capable of efficiencies in excess of 46 per cent and NOx emissions of less than 250 mg/Nm3 at five per cent O2.

Siemens steps into gasification

Siemens’ Power Generation Group has expanded its product portfolio through the acquisition of Switzerland’s Sustec-Group, which specializes in gasification technology. The move will enable Siemens to secure a future in the growing clean coal technology market, where integrated coal gasification combined cycle (IGCC) is thought to be a promising technology.

Siemens is planning to accelerate the development and testing of the next generation of gasifiers and will construct a coal gasification plant at Spreetal in Saxony, Germany with a thermal capacity of at least 1000 MW. The plant will produce syngas for both power generation and methanol production.

Sustec’s technology is known as GSP and is based on entrained flow gasification. It is able to use a wide range of coal grades as well as biomass, petroleum coke and refinery residues.

• Shell Gas & Power International and Anglo American have formed a coal gasification alliance. The new alliance hopes to marry the fuel reserves of Anglo American with Shell’s own gasification technology.

Alstom returns to fitness

French engineering and power group Alstom has reported a return to profitability in its latest set of annual results, achieving an operating margin of 5.6 per cent, positive free cash flow of €525m ($663m) and a net profit of €178m. The French conglomerate, Bouygues, has also expressed an interest in increasing its stake in Alstom.

Alstom reported a sharp rise in orders from the power sector, with the growth in sales in its Power Turbo-Systems and Power Environment units rising by 17 per cent over the previous fiscal year. Overall, sales in the company rose eight per cent to €13.4bn.

Alstom says that it has completed the action plan that it began three years ago, including the resolution of problems with the GT24/26 gas turbines and improved contract execution. It has also reduced net debt to €1.25bn, from €1.65bn in 2005.

The Financial Times has reported that Bouygues, which in May bought the French government’s 21 per cent stake in Alstom, is interested in increasing its stake to 30 per cent. The company is thought to be interested in gaining a foothold in the emerging nuclear power industry.

Merger called off

The planned merger between Austria’s oil group OMV and electricity group Verbund has been scrapped following political opposition. OMV was to pay €13bn ($16bn) for Verbund, which is 51 per cent state owned. The merger would have created a company with a market capitalization of €29bn, however, the country’s parliament voted against releasing its stake in Verbund.

A major issue was whether hydroelectric dams should remain under public control. The dams are Verbund’s biggest assets, and provincial governors do not want the country’s water resources to come into foreign hands.

GE expands water business with Zenon acquisition

GE Water & Process Technologies has completed its acquisition of Zenon Environmental Inc., a specialist in advanced membranes for water purification, wastewater treatment and water reuse. The $689m transaction will enable GE to increase its grasp of the water and wastewater industry at a time when water scarcity and infrastructure challenges are increasing in importance.

Zenon’s product portfilio complements that of GE Water and will provide pre-treatment technology for reverse osmosis desalination plants.

The purchase of Zenon follows GE’s acquisition of Ecolochem in 2005. Ecolochem supplies filtered and demineralized water systems for industrial sites, using fixed skid mounted equipment for long term outsourcing contracts. In addition, a worldwide fleet of mobile equipment is available to meet the emergency water treatment needs of industry.

News digest

AES joint venture: AES Corporation and AgCert International have formed a joint venture to deploy AgCert’s greenhouse gas emission reduction technology. The new company, AES AgriVerde, aims to achieve 20m t/year of greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2012.

Alstom license: Alstom has signed an exclusive worldwide licence agreement with EIG Inc. of the USA for its carbon dioxide capture process, enabling Alstom to develop and commercialize the technology. The technology is based on chilled ammonia and tests have demonstrated that the process can yield high purity CO2 at 1500 psi (103 bar) with capture rates in excess of 90 per cent.

GE Energy nuclear: GE Energy’s nuclear business has signed an exclusive agreement with Silex Systems of Australia to licence and develop the company’s next generation low enriched uranium process in the USA. Silex’s technology is a new third-generation, laser-based isotope separation process for enriching uranium.

GE patents: GE Energy’s wind business has entered into patent licences with Fuhrländer AG of Germany and Harrington Partners of the USA for GE’s variable speed technology for wind turbines.

IFC sets standards: The International Finance Corporation has adopted new environmental and social standards for all the projects it finances. The standards are stronger and more comprehensive than any other finance institution working with the private sector, and include policies and standards for sustainability, disclosure, and environmental and social review policies.

WADE survey: According to the World Alliance for Decentralized Energy (WADE)’s latest annual market assessment, 24 per cent of electricity output from newly installed power generation plants in 2005 was derived from decentralized energy systems. This share is up from 13 per cent in 2002.

Wärtsilä extends: Finland’s Wärtsilä Corporation has added two sizes of biomass fuelled plants to its BioPower product range. The new BioPower 3 and BioPower 7 plants each deliver approximately 3 and 7.5 MW of electricity, respectively.

World Bank goes neutral: The World Bank Group has announced that it is to become carbon neutral with respect to its Washington, DC, offices, its spring and annual meetings, staff commuting and all operational travel from headquarters. The emissions from these activities will be offset through investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy, and through the purchase of verified emission reductions from projects in developing countries.