Capstone Turbine Corporation, a Nasdaq-listed manufacturer of microturbine energy systems, announced last week that it had received an order from Israeli startup HelioFocus for the development and modification of Capstone Turbine's C65 MicroTurbine to operate on solar energy.
Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Ness Ziona, Israel, HelioFocus Ltd. is engaged in the development of modular, high efficiency Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) systems. These systems will convert sunlight to grid electricity using a parabolic solar concentrator to focus the sun's energy into a solar receiver that provides enough heat energy to drive Capstone's modified turbine and power electronics.
HelioFocus does not have a web site, and little information about the company is publicly available. According to one web post, HelioFocus is a portfolio company of IC Green Energy, the cleantech investment subsidiary of Israel Corp.
The company's technology is apparently based on the research of Prof. Jacob Karni of the Weizmann Institute, located in nearby Rehovot. Indeed, Yeda, the Weizmann Institute's technology transfer office, reveals that Prof. Karni has developed a high efficiency concentrated solar receiver available for licensing.
I wrote about IC Green Energy, and the investment strategy of Yom Tov Samia, its Director, back in May.
Under the initial phase of development, Capstone will make modifications to the existing microturbine to operate on superheated air and integrate the microturbine with the HelioFocus solar concentrator system.
Capstone Turbine has been evaluating product development opportunities to combine the benefit of the microturbine and solar concentrator technologies. The traditional Capstone microturbine engine uses gaseous or liquid fuels to heat combustion air. The HelioFocus Solar Concentrator focuses enough sunlight energy to provide an equivalent amount of combustion heat to drive the microturbine. This fuel free renewable solution offers higher solar conversion efficiencies over traditional solar photovoltaic systems, the company said. In addition the increased power density of this system should reduce the amount of required real estate for siting these systems.
"Our company's current focus is continued product development through strategic partnerships with forward looking companies," said Dr. Ory Zik, one of the Founders and CEO of HelioFocus. "Utilizing Capstone's microturbine, our mutual goal is to develop a system that can operate entirely on sunlight."