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EN3 | Overview



The German tech start-up EN3 develops innovative systems for the carbon-free generation of electricity from unused residual heat and waste heat. By means of its environment- and resource-friendly energy systems, EN3 makes a valuable contribution to sustainable power generation.

 

Humanity is using its limited natural resources more and more quickly. Each day, the media and countless politicians call for action against the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and demand that a contribution to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions be made. Simultaneously, the level of consumption in industrialized countries and emerging economies is increasing, and the world's population keeps growing.

Thus, it is all the more important to develop new technologies that use the available resources more efficiently. Even today, half of the power generated worldwide is released to the environment as unused residual heat or waste heat via chimneys or exhaust pipes. According to the International Energy Agency, global power consumption could be reduced by 50 % if more efficient technologies were used (World Energy Outlook 2008). Potential power savings amount to more than 1,200 gigawatt (GW). This corresponds to three times the power of all 440 nuclear power plants worldwide (as of 2012). According to the ORC association (www.orc-fachverband.de), the use of industrial waste heat could replace 5 out of 9 active nuclear power plants in Germany alone. 

 

By Means of Its Systems, EN3 Introduces a New Technology to the Market

 

By means of our innovative EN3 technology, waste heat may be converted into electricity. This technology is protected by 12 patents, and we have applied for four of these patents around the globe, for instance in the U.S., in China, and in India; some of the patents have already been granted there. EN3 focuses on using the waste heat of internal combustion engines. This includes both combined heat and power plants, i.e., plants for generating electricity, and engines in trucks, cars, and ships.

Our company founder and initial investor Dr. Christian Schultz (German business angel of the year 2013) was able to attract several business angels from his network and the VC technology fund of the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (www.technologiefonds-mv.de) to this innovative project very early. Christian Schultz, his two co-founders Norbert Günther and Andreas Richter, several renowned German business angels, and the M/V technology fund have invested over 1.5 million euros in equity so far. In addition, the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has provided seven-digit amounts to support this innovation. Using these financial resources, we have successfully implemented our technological innovation and developed a prototype, which is already being used and which has undergone multiple performance tests. The technology is protected by several international patents.

Our energy conversion systems are based on a steam power cycle that is used in all modern large-scale power plants nowadays. Our patented steam expander (steam expansion machine) is at the heart of this energy conversion system. Similar to performance-critical chips in modern computers, this is the component necessary to introduce compact energy conversion systems to the market in a simple and inexpensive fashion. To use the waste heat of an engine, one also needs a steam generator, a condenser, and a feed pump. These components have to be adapted to one another to generate the desired additional electricity. 

 

The Thermodynamic Cycle of an Energy Conversion System

 

Large power plants mostly use turbines. However, using turbines in small systems is unattractive because of the high production costs. Moreover, small turbines are not very energy-efficient.

EN3 has solved this problem. By means of our patented steam expander, which is already being used, we achieve high rates of efficiency at low production costs. The EN3 technology enables the carbon-neutral generation of electricity from waste heat. In other words, we convert the waste heat of engines, which is normally released to the environment, into electricity.

 

Figure of the Rotary Piston Engine

 

Our system, whose prototype has already been tested successfully by a northern European technology company, can be used for numerous purposes in the areas of electricity generation from industrial waste heat, biomass combustion, or solar and geothermal power plants around the globe. At the moment, we are focusing on generating electricity from the exhaust gases of internal combustion engines in the stationary (e.g., combined heat and power plants in biogas plants) and mobile (trucks and ships) sector. In 2013 alone, almost 18 million engines were produced within this relevant market (source: EngineLink 2013), which corresponds to approx. 8 % of all internal combustion engines produced worldwide. If only 10 % of this potential were equipped with a system for generating electricity from waste heat, this would correspond to a market volume of over EUR 33.5bn (according to our own calculations).

Each of us has an internal combustion engine in his or her car (gasoline or diesel engine), and everyone knows that this is the central component that causes the car to move. Also, it is well-known that both the engine and the exhaust pipe get hot and thus emit large amounts of unused waste heat to the environment. This is precisely the aspect we focus on, for engines will remain a key technology in the future of power generation. Engines are also used in combined heat and power plants, where they are referred to as stationary systems because they remain in the same place. Because of its use in biogas and landfill gas plants, in the supply of people in towns and cities, and in large buildings among other things, decentralized electricity and heat supply plays an increasingly important role.

For instance, in the case of an engine with an electric power of 400 kilowatt (kWel) in an average German biogas plant, we can generate an additional power of 40 kilowatt using our technology. This corresponds to 320,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of carbon-neutral electricity per year that may be generated using the EN3 energy conversion system with a single engine. The electricity generated is sufficient to supply more than 80 households for an entire year. This additional electricity may be used by the operator of the engine or fed back into the power grid. There are additional mobile applications of the EN3 technology in the automotive sector, the commercial vehicle sector (buses and trucks), and the shipping industry.

 A truck engine, for instance, has a power of 200-300 kilowatt (kW). Even though the internal combustion engine is constantly being improved, as much as approx. 60 % of the energy stored in the fuel are still emitted to the environment unused through the coolant and through waste heat. In commercial vehicles, the additional power generated by the EN3 system may also be used to propel the vehicle. Consequently, up to 10 % of fuel may be saved per vehicle every year (depending on the type and mileage of the vehicle). This, in turn, reduces the vehicle's operating costs and its carbon emissions.

If one solely calculates the number of engines for trucks and for combined heat and power plants that are produced each year, the result is currently 16.7 million engines (source: EngineLink 2013). Our patented EN3 expander is the key to market entry in this sector.

 

Application in Internal Combustion Engines 

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The acquisition of this asset involves considerable risks and can lead to the complete loss of the assets used.

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Source: Own research. Based on data from the German Private Equity and Venture Capital Association - BVK, among others.
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