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Micro-power under test

November 3, 2000, 13:00 CET

A micro heat and power plant for use in private homes is to be tested for a year at Statoil's Mongstad complex near Bergen.

No bigger than a dishwasher, this energy unit can deliver three kilowatts of electricity and up to nine kilowatts of heat.

It is based on a Stirling engine, which was invented by Robert Stirling, a Scottish clergyman, in 1816 and gives very little vibration or noise.

Sigma Elektroteknisk near Oslo has been working over the past three-four years to improve the engine with support from the Norwegian authorities and Statoil's supplier development programme.

"The Stirling engine has the charming property that it only needs a heat supply to generate electricity," says project manager Knut Skårdalsmo at Statoil's research centre in Trondheim.

He reports that it can run in principle on any kind of power source, including sunlight and wood pellets.

The product technology and customer service centre at Mongstad will be testing the micro unit for operating life and efficiency as well as measuring its exhaust fumes. Gas will be the fuel on this occasion.

Statoil is involved in the project because it wants to offer the broadest possible range of energy solutions to its customers, says senior engineer Dag Tore Seierstad in Manufacturing & Marketing.