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Waste oil power generator from Cyclone Power Technologies and Phoenix Power Group shows lower emissions than conventional diesel generator

Cyclone Power Technologies and its licensee Phoenix Power Group (PPG) have announced positive results of preliminary emissions testing of the combustion system of the Phoenix 10, the first small-scale waste oil power generator.

Running on used motor oil in tests conducted by an independent third party, the Phoenix 10 generated 30% less SO2 and almost 50% less NOx than a comparable generator running on diesel fuel. Acceptable emissions of SO2 and NOx required by many state environmental agencies are below 5 tons per year. The Phoenix 10 demonstrated emissions of only 0.14 and 0.13 tons respectively of these toxic gases (based on a full 4,368 hour year), using a waste fuel product that other small power systems are incapable of accepting.

The reason for these extremely clean readings is Cyclone’s WHE-25 engine which powers the Phoenix 10. As an external combustion engine, the WHE-25 is able to combust any fuel—even used motor oils— at temperatures and pressures below where many gasses such as NOx are formed. Other noxious particles are incinerated in the long combustion residence of the engine’s cyclonic chamber. Tested on diesel fuel for comparison purposes, the WHE-25 had approximately one-tenth of the SO2 and NOx emissions of a diesel internal combustion engine.

“We are pleased with these preliminary findings, but not surprised. We know that the Cyclone engine is capable of combusting used oil in an environmentally sound manner, and thereby providing producers of this waste product with an alternative, revenue producing method of disposal.

—Doug Petty, Vice President of PPG

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, waste oil from one oil change can contaminate 1 million gallons of fresh water. The Phoenix 10 presents an economic incentive for users of motor oil to dispose of their waste in an environmentally friendly manner instead of one which can cause great harm to the water supply.

The Phoenix 10 prototype will be unveiled at Power-Gen International in Orlando, 14-16 December. The system will allow thousands of oil change service centers and other waste oil producing locations to recycle their used motor oil in an environmentally-friendly and profitable manner by producing up to 10kW of electricity.

Cyclone and PPG will conduct a more broad-spectrum emission study during the system’s pilot testing commencing in the beginning of 2011, and will announce those results when available. Emission testing was conducted by Alliance Source Testing of Decatur, AL.



No links and no reference to the useful energy output. If e.g. a diesel with a DPF produces lower emissions per kWh, which is better?

Nick Lyons

A small scale Rankine cycle engine will no doubt have significantly lower thermal efficiency than a compression ignition engine with same output. Lower combustion temps keep the NOx down, but CO2 emissions are bound to be much higher.


"If e.g. a diesel with a DPF produces lower emissions per kWh, which is better?"

Used oil at zero cost vs diesel at $25 per million BTUs is better. The WHE operates at 32% efficiency, 85% with heat recovery, and according to the article appears pretty clean...what do you want?


You can burn waste oil in a diesel engine, if properly filtered; you might add a bit of diethyl ether to improve atomization and ignition. You could run the WHE on the exhaust heat from the diesel.


"You can burn waste oil in a diesel engine..."

I'd be all for that, I think it's a great idea. But diesel is an expensive fossil fuel, why not run the Cyclone gen set on biomass briquettes which can be sourced locally(creating jobs) for $5 per MBTUs and sold retail(creating jobs)for $10-$15 per MBTUs and cut the oil corporations out of the deal? By the way $25 per MBTUs for diesel is not taking into account the externalities such as the $1 Trillion a year we are putting into the Middle East...the real cost for oil is more like $200 per bbl.


Biomass briquettes are going to cost more than a waste product which requires disposal; people will give you waste oil, or even pay you to take it.

The Cyclone's burner is inherently more flexible than a diesel's injection system, but diesels run well on everything from kerosene to filtered and pre-heated waste cooking grease. Cyclone even mentions running on engine waste heat.

One thing Cyclone does not give anyone who isn't willing to register is any data which might indicate thermal efficiency. If we want to offset OPEC oil, we need that efficiency to be as high as possible; using a diesel as the topping cycle with the Cyclone as the "second bite at the apple" is always going to yield more output per unit of fuel.


Cyclone is pretty good about making that info available, just go to their site or call them directly.
They show 32% thermal efficiency and with a heat exchanger can get more than half the input energy as low grade heat. Sure a source of waste, especially if there is a tipping fee, is preferable but there is less than 1 Q of waste in that form that is available...apparently the deal with Phoenix is addressing that market...that's good. Briquettes can be delivered for about $5 per MBTUs using local resources, that's equivalent to diesel at 64 cents per gallon. The cyclone engine can be manufactuered for less than a diesel engine, why mess with diesel? YOu could still have a combined cycle using the WHE if you want and increase the fuel to electric efficiency by 10%.

They show 32% thermal efficiency
That is in the territory of multi-megawatt steam turbines. You will pardon me if I don't believe that figure without better support.
Henry Gibson

The big ship diesels can get fifty percent of the energy in such fuel converted to shaft energy. MAN makes a stationary engine of the same speeds. Add a newly invented version of the Still cycle and you get even more efficiency. Only if there is sulphur in the diesel fuel can there be sulphur in the exhaust and the same is true with used lubricating oil. NOX can be controlled. a modified Capstone turbine that runs partially on natural gas and waste oil can also get very low NOX. Both NOX and SO3 are fertilizers required for plant growth, but no one ever mentions the fact that many tons are made at great expense to spread on the ground as ammonium sulphate and ammonium nitrate.

Combined heat and power cogeneration units can use all of the heat available for electricity heating or cooling and in fact can have an efficiency of heat delivery to a building of greater than 100 percent. All the waste oil can be saved until winter when heat is needed in many climates; the oil did spend millions of years in the ground. ..HG..


Henry, you're comparing diesels with cylinders the better part of a meter in diameter (with correspondingly low heat losses) to a very small radial piston steam engine running at far lower heat-input temperatures and greater losses of all kinds.


A few points. The thermal efficiency of this particular engine is low at only about 10% if thermal losses from the steam generator is considered. But in defense of Cyclone they are developing high efficiency versions, and testing of one model did show greater than 30% net thermal efficiency. I'll argue that the benefit of this platform is not its efficiency. After all, if Diesels can be modified to burn waste oil (and they can), then why hasn't someone stepped up and provided a suitable product in this application using a Diesel engine? I think the answer is that a developing a suitable product with respect to size, weight, noise, emissions, and cost is prohibitively difficult. This Cyclone platform is quiet, very compact, and does have low emissions (w/o costly emissions controls equipment). It is also ideal for cogeneration. The air blown off the condenser of this system is clean heated air that can be used directly in space heating applications. Furthermore, the exhaust from the expander is primarily saturated water (hot) that can be rather easily (and efficiently) used for water heating or adsorption chiller space cooling. This system could see very high efficiency by making use of the heat contained in the steam/water exhaust. IMO, focusing on the "thermal efficiency" of the cycle is myopic.

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