Microturbines are small combustion turbines with outputs that range from 30 kilowatts to 300 kilowatts. They use turbo-generator technology that evolved from automotive and truck turbo-chargers and auxiliary power units for airplanes and small jet engines. In many cases, microturbines have only one moving part, are air-cooled and fueled by natural gas. These small and compact units can also be packaged together to serve larger loads. They are ideal for commercial and small industrial customers. The waste heat produced by microturbines can be used to provide hot water or air, while improving power quality and reliability.
Microturbines are currently commercially available. Market conditions favor businesses that benefit from the recapture of excess heat as well as those that place a premium on power quality and reliability. Free heat and hot water from the excess heat make microturbines a competitive means of electric generation for businesses such as hotels, health spas, nursing homes and certain types of manufacturing. For business that rely on sensitive electronics or that cannot endure even momentary outages, microturbines provide a safeguard against downtime costs.
Our company uses two microturbines to power a portion of the electric load at our headquarters in Wall Township. Identification of other applications is expected as the technology becomes more widely used. For example, microturbines have been used at landfills and wastewater facilities, where they are powered from waste gas to generate electricity.