Innovation spurs new energy project for power generators

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Liliana Moreno
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

On Feb. 3, Airmen from the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, and the 821st Contingency Response Support Squadron, met at Scaled Power’s test facility in San Francisco, California, for a turbo generator demonstration which is in line with and completes phase-one of a three-phase Research, Development, Test and Evaluation project.

In its continuing effort to become more light, lean and lethal, Airmen from the 821st Contingency Response Group assigned to Travis Air Force Base in California, continue to advance the concept of a smaller power generator, with the capability to support contingency response missions and Joint Services across the entire Global Air Distribution Network.

 “The 821st CRG devised a plan to explore power production alternatives to the current base operations support generators, the 30kW MEP-805 and the 60kW MEP-806, which are bulky in size, reliability rates are below standard and they spread across multiple pallet positions on an aircraft,” said 1st Lt. Jack Robinson, 821st CRSS civil engineer officer. “This is a noteworthy project that advances an initiative that will not only meet the needs of the CRG power production and transportation requirements, but it will also have the potential to be fielded throughout the military as a whole once complete.”

The original idea was submitted by the 821st CRSS power production shop through the base’s Phoenix Spark program.

“This concept started at the shop level by the Airmen that work with the equipment and knew there was a better way to do the mission,” said Lt. Col. Scott Zarbo, 821st CRSS commander. “To see the development of their idea get championed and funded to this point helps to re-enforce the notion that ideas from the field on ways to improve how business is done are taken seriously.”

In April of 2019, the project was awarded to Scaled Power and is currently managed by the 821st CRG through Army Contracting Command.

“Scaled Power’s solution is the first of its kind, boasting 30kW turbine power output in such a small size while remaining multi fuel capable,” Robinson said.  “Once fully developed, the contingency response wing will be able to ship eight 30kW generators on a pallet that we currently can only fit two on. This has the potential to transform the way that the CRW and the Department of Defense utilizes and deploys power generation capability worldwide.”

To initiate Phase I, AFWERX and U.S. Transportation Command committed $120,000 each using Small Business Innovation Research funding. After receiving the contract, Scaled Power assessed the feasibility of the project and developed a generator prototype by combining one of their previously developed turbine engines with commercially available generator components.

“At its conclusion, Scaled Power promises to deliver a lightweight 30kW powered turbine engine generator with multi-stack capabilities that take up one pallet position, improves reliability, takes multiple fuel sources, and it’s able to start, stop, and operate at sea level with no degradation of power output, among other military specifications,” said Maj. Roy Jefferson, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center logistics branch chief. “This and other initiatives across the service are an attempt to modernize an already atrophied strategic force.”

The mobile power generator project is a three-phase project that should complete sometime in 2024 with a total estimated RDT&E cost of $3.3 million.