Micro turbine power tech company awarded funding

South Australian start-up ecoJet Engineering has developed a world-leading micro gas turbine (MGT) engine to provide a solution for affordable and uninterrupted on-site power supply.

The company has been awarded a $96,500 grant through the South Australian Early Commercialisation Fund (SAECF), administered by TechInSA, to help bring its innovative generator to the global market.

ecoJet has devised a zero-emissions power source by designing a micro gas turbine that burns hydrogen gas.

The turbine engine, which has a nominal output range of 10-16kW, will be cheaper and cleaner to run than current micro gas turbines and other competing technologies.

“In circumstances where people rely on stable power for medical equipment or high-value products, the capability for onsite power generation is crucial,” ecoJet co-founder and director Warren Day said.

“To be able to do this in an economically and environmentally friendly way which is independent of grid disturbances and ever-increasing energy prices is a game changer.

“Micro gas turbines are invaluable to domestic residences and businesses for power generation because of their compact size and higher efficiency resulting in lower electricity costs.”

Mr Day said the automotive industry could also benefit from utilising MGT-based power packs due to their lower weight and high-power output.

The technology uses a newly-patented turbine rotor which has been specifically designed by ecoJet to significantly reduce thrust and increase torque.

This significantly contributes to improving efficiency over existing MGT products, which typically have power efficiencies of less than 35 per cent.

ecoJet’s MGT does not compete with other renewable energy sources and can be combined with energy storage products or solar panels.

Through such collaborations ecoJet will be able to generate reliable energy independent of the national power grid for a range of consumers, including those in remote areas.

Mr Day, along with the company’s other co-founders – University of Adelaide graduates James Kim and Alexander Wright – first came together in 2015 to develop miniaturised gas turbine technology as part of their final year engineering Honours project.

This project resulted in the successful development of one of the world’s smallest ultra-micro gas turbine prototypes.

The co-founders went on to be awarded a $50,000 grant from the University of South Australia and the state government through the Venture Catalyst program before creating ecoJet Engineering in 2016.

SA Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said the global micro turbine market is predicted to increase to around $452 million by 2024.

“ecoJet is well placed to tap into this growing market and ultimately create new jobs and contribute to economic growth in South Australia,” Mr Maher said.

“The research and development of ecoJet’s technology is reflective of the impressive and ever-growing high-tech innovation coming out of South Australia.”