Generator maker sees used motor oil potential

Popular Science winner snags deal with company to develop a generator engine that runs on used motor oil.

An engineer's sketch of the Cyclone Mark V external combustion engine. Cyclone Power Technologies

An inventor and a generator manufacturer have come up with a new use for used motor oil.

Cyclone Power Technologies signed a deal with Phoenix Power Group on Thursday to develop an external combustion engine that runs on waste oil. The deal signs over waste-oil-related rights to Cyclone's Mark V external combustion engine to the Phoenix Power, which plans to use the engine in its new Phoenix 5-Series Generator.

"Cyclone still retains rights for the Mark V with other fuels," a Cyclone representative noted in an e-mail. "Phoenix Power only holds exclusive rights for generators running on waste oil." The representative noted that the Mark V "runs on all fuels--including biofuels like algae and orange peels."

Cyclone Power Technologies is the company founded by Harry Schoell, an inventor of an improved version of the steam engine that Popular Science named an "Invention of the Year" in 2008 and also garnered an award from the Society of Automotive Engineers. A description and video of Schoell's steam engine invention, which can run on "virtually any fuel" can be found in a Popular Science profile on him in 2008. At the time he said he was planning to offer it to lawnmower manufacturers. Now, it seems, a modified version of that original Cyclone Engine, the Cyclone Mark V, will be used in power generators.

"The P5S is expected to be the first power generator capable of utilizing waste oil products, such as used motor/equipment oil, to produce electricity for on-site operational requirements or as a power grid feed, " Phoenix Power Group said in a statement.

There is a reason why the Phoenix Power Group is so keen on used oil.

The generator designer and manufacturer is a subsidiary of the Atlantic Systems Group, a Harrisonburg, Va.-based company that designs and builds automotive oil change and service stations. That's obviously a group of people who think a lot about used oil and its problem as a potential contaminate to our water supply. As it's been noted before in other articles on motor oil , the Environmental Protection Agency contends that dumping the waste oil from just one car's oil change into the ground can contaminate up to 1 million gallons of fresh water.

Updated at 5:28 a.m. PST January 15 with further details on the terms of the deal.

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About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.

 

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