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Continental Design & Engineering Newsletter

Energy in a Box

KatrinaAfter Hurricane Katrina, the hospitals and other facilities that had back-up generators counted themselves lucky... that is, until the fuel began to run out. With a massive evacuation pre-Katrina, the fuel supply had been quickly depleted. Then, after the hurricane, many roads were impassable and it took weeks to get gasoline and diesel to the gas stations still standing.

With no gasoline trucks coming into New Orleans, the hospitals and many other needed facilities were unable to obtain fuel and were forced to close and evacuate.

KatrinaBefore some of the major disasters we have experienced recently, no one gave a second thought to re-fueling generators. The fuel was readily available and everyone was satisfied. But post-Katrina, we know how quickly supply lines can collapse and how even the simplest goods like water and gasoline can become woefully impossible to get. There has to be another answer.

A company in Anderson, Indiana has an answer. They have developed a generator that works continuously on natural gas. You never have to "feed" it and you don't have to rely on the power grid either. It is easily portable, environmentally friendly, quiet and often cheaper than buying electricity from the local power company.

Additionally, this is not just a single home solution. This generator is powerful enough to light up a small neighborhood or power a large superstore. It is manufactured for prime power, which is continuous power used 24/7. Some customers are also requesting the unit for back-up power.

Continental Design & Engineering was instrumental in the early phases of the design of this product. See the case study below for more information.

Case Study: Design & Development

In 2001, a start-up company approached Continental for assistance in designing and developing a unique generator. This generator would provide clean prime power in the 75kW range - enough to power a small neighborhood or mid-size factory. The generator would utilize a gasoline-fueled truck engine modified to run on natural gas and other fuels, including biofuel. The generator would be clean burning, meeting or exceeding all current environmental standards.

The second specification was to design the generator for combined heat and power applications (CHP), greatly increasing its efficiency (over 85%), as well as lowering the client's overall energy costs for electricity.

Continental first provided the Chief Design- Engineer for the project, and then assembled a team of qualified Designers with the necessary CAD equipment and software for the design program. With Continental's technical support, the original two design concepts were successfully completed, both exceeding the original performance benchmarks.

Continental continues to work with the company in their new product development efforts, and assists in the deployment of their product for end-users such as schools, shopping centers, office complexes and other installations.

IC Series 85 kW - Onsite Energy System

The ENI 85 is a weatherproof enclosed combined heat and power on-site energy system specifically designed to satisfy commercial and light industrial demand for lower priced and more reliable energy.

GeneratorThe ENI 85 produces electric power, heat and cooling on your site, anywhere in the world - no matter how remote.

The engine offers commercial and light industrial companies the same level of energy independence, reliability and cost savings that large industrial companies have enjoyed for years. It provides reliable on-site energy for customers who seek to lower energy costs through base load, peak shaving, or load following operations.

ENI 85 engines can be used as continuous duty applications, either grid parallel or grid independent. The ENI 85 is used for Combined Heat and Power (CHP) applications, which enables companies of all sizes to:

  • Reduce average kilowatt cost to achieve bottom line energy savings
  • Reduce the quantity of electricity and natural gas that your business consumes... for additional energy savings
  • Increase electric supply reliability and quality to support your energy needs in the digital age ... eliminating your company's exposure to outage risk and its bottom-line impact

IC Series 85 kW - Features and Benefits

The ENI 85 features new, innovative technology that delivers higher energy performance at a lower cost. It operates at an estimated net electrical efficiency of 31% at full load (4-5% higher than micro-turbines).

  • Innovative 1800 rpm synchronous generator automotive engine that drives energy savings through greater energy efficiency
  • Ability to recover and recycle engine waste heat to support your facility's thermal load requirements
  • Low emission stoichiometric engine with catalytic control technology
  • Pre-engineered, packaged design which reduces up front costs for engineering, site design, and installation
  • A small footprint that can easily be sited for indoor or outdoor installation
  • Overall package efficiency of over 86% when used in Combined Heat and Power applications
  • Infrequent service intervals and easy serviceability
  • Low NOx and CO levels meeting California emission requirements
  • Significantly reduced noise levels

IC Series 85 kW - Fuel

The ENI 85 runs on natural gas and propane and uses advanced control technology. As a result, these units will achieve both high efficiency (up to a net electrical efficiency of 31%) and low emissions. The ENI 85 has recently been modified to operate on biofuel, including fuel derived from plants and animal waste.

IC Series 85 kW - Applications

The ENI 85 offers full flexibility to support your energy needs. The unit can be used for a wide range of applications, including:

  • Remote locations
  • Military Installations
  • Field Hospitals
  • Office buildings
  • Environmentally sensitive areas
  • Small factories
  • Schools and universities
  • Housing developments
  • Refrigerated warehouses
  • Microgrid applications

Continental Design & Engineering provides expert engineering and technical services to a wide range of customers. Situated in the heart of the automotive manufacturing Midwest, Continental has developed a specialty in energy related technologies, such as alternators, generators and batteries.

Continental Design & Engineering provides the following services:

  • Design and Engineering Services - For product development and manufacturing
  • Technical Staffing Services - With both contract employees and direct hires
  • Quality Engineering - From handling the immediate problem (Short Term Fix) to root cause analysis and final resolution of any quality problem (Long Term Fix)
  • Lean Enterprise Consulting - Taking Lean technology from a business philosophy to a money-saving reality throughout the entire organization
  • Globalization - Helping our clients compete in a global market with the best cost solutions available for their sourcing decision


Great Inventions of the 20th Century

1946- Microwave Oven

Percy Spender Percy Spencer was working for Raytheon, a major US military contractor, when he developed the idea of using microwaves to cook food. This discovery was more due to luck than anything else; he was building magnetrons for use in radar sets when he noticed a chocolate bar he had in his pocket had melted while working on an active set. After much experimentation, Raytheon patented the microwave cooking process in 1946.

The first commercial microwave oven was built in 1947. Called the Radarange, it was 6 feet tall and weighed in at 750 pounds! It produced 3000 watts of radiation, which is three times the amount produced by today's ovens, and was water-cooled.

Radarange Home microwaves didn't become popular until the 1960s. For a while, most were built by defense contractors, as they were most familiar with the magnetron. Prices fell dramatically in the 1970s, further increasing sales. The microwave could be found in almost every household by the 1980s, and it is currently estimated that 95% of American households have one.

Modern Microwave Oven
Modern microwave ovens operate on fairly simple principles. Microwave radiation is passed through the food in a beam and water, fat, and sugar molecules absorb the energy. Most of these molecules are electric dipoles, with a positive charge at one end and a negative charge at the other, so they are twisted back and forth as they try to align with the alternating electrical field created by the microwave beam. Heat is created through this molecular movement.

There can be no doubt that the microwave makes preparing food faster and easier, but there are a few potential health hazards. Microwaves are often used for reheating food, but they may not kill bacteria that can cause food borne illness because of uneven heating. This uneven heating is due to the microwave energy being unevenly distributed inside the oven, as well as the fact that different parts of the food absorb energy at different rates. The cook can compensate for this somewhat by arranging the food so that it can absorb the energy more evenly. Closed containers can explode due to the build-up of steam and tinfoil or other products containing metal can spark, but these incidents are easily avoided by reading the user's manual and being careful about what goes in the microwave oven.

Another health hazard that some people are concerned about is radiation leakage. A new microwave oven made in the USA has a legal limit (set by the FDA) of 1 mW/ cm-2 at a 5 cm distance of radiation leakage, while a used oven can only have 5 times as much leakage. To put this into perspective, a GSM cell phone's limit is 2 mW/ cm-2 at a 5 cm distance, although of course there is some controversy over cell phone radiation as well. Today's microwaves use advanced methods of radiation shielding and manufacturers insist that there is no safety issue.

Although microwaves may not be right for all types of food preparation, there is no doubt that they do make getting a hot meal on the table faster and more convenient. You would be hard-pressed to find someone today who does not benefit from Percy Spencer's lucky discovery.

Wacky Patent of the Week

Tired of spending 30 minutes or more in the bathroom each morning getting your hair to look "just right"? The inventor of this week's featured patent found a better, faster way. Just make sure you keep, pets, children, fingers, and, well, hair away from it!

Combustion Dryer

As you may or may not have guessed, this week's invention is a hair dryer. Not just any hair dryer, mind you, but a gas combustion hair dryer! According to the patent, "the present invention relates to gas combustion type hair driers and, more particularly, to a combustion type cordless hair drier that uses a combustion flame, resulting from liquefied petroleum gas (hereinafter referred to as LPG), as a heat source and, further, that is comprised of a battery and a blower to be available for a portable use." I wonder what airport security would have to say if they found one of these in your luggage?

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