Todd Thompson – Carnot Compression and the Holy Grail of Gas Compression

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May 3, 2020

Even though CNG compressors have advanced a lot over the years, the core reciprocating technology remains the same. Well, I want to introduce you to a new company that is developing breakthrough technology in gas compression systems.

Carnot Compression on the NGV World Podcast.

Todd Thompson – CEO and Co-founder of Carnot Compression Inc.

Todd Thompson joined us in this episode and we talked about what does it takes to develop a new isothermal compression technology from scratch. A technology that might become the most efficient way to compress natural gas in the near future.

The company started with their own money and money from friends and family, but after received grants from the National Science Foundation, demonstrating it was a valuable project, and they started developing the technology over time, organically.

The overall idea is based on the concept of Isothermal Compression, a compression mechanism that represents the upper limits of cooling and horsepower savings. It is a very recent area of research and development in centrifugal compressors. The goal is to reduce the power penalty associated with a large number of compression stages in one continuous process that compresses and extracts heat.

The primary benefit of an isothermal compressor will be saving in energy costs.

This could mean savings of 20% in energy consumption across the industry.

How the Carnot Compression Technology works

It’s a simple concept, there is only a moving part. It’s a drum that’s put to spin. In the center of rotation, a gas-liquid mixture is introduced. Now the centrifugal force and the higher density of the liquid is used to compress the gas. The compression process is similar to a waterfall in each of the different channels inside the spinning drum.

Gas is being compressed as it goes from the center to the outer diameter, and then that gas exists the compression channel at high pressures; the gas is harvested and the liquid gets recirculated.

Inspired from an old engineering concept

The idea comes from the late 1800s and early 1900s, in that time  Charles Taylor (1859-1953), a self-taught engineer and geologist designed and built a series of awesome power and hydraulic engineering projects in Canada and the U.S.

His hydraulic-air-compression-power systems used the same phenomenon exploited by the iron-age trompe; Taylor harnessed the power of gravity and the weight of falling water to create a compressed air resource that powered remote mining operations and factories. 

The trick here is how water in the form of a bubble train gets inside the channels and acts as a liquid piston, allowing that isothermal heat exchange to happen.

Carnot Compression compressors are carving their own unique category in the existing flow/pressure ranges. The technology seems to be scalable in every direction regarding capacity (mass flow) and pressure.

It’s logical to think that maintenance savings will be a very important factor as it will be a true oil-free compressor, with one moving part. Distancing themselves from other commercial units in the market.

All issues to increase power, pressure ranges, and flow are addressable, Todd is confident that it’s only a matter of time to reach new markets. It will depend more on the interest of the industry players. It is a great challenge but it can be done.

The company is focused today in 5 to 25hp industrial air compressors within the US. But they will scale to international clients and higher horsepower reaching 100hp, growing along the way with key partners around the market.

Hopefully, we can see this company develop and disrupt a very much needed market. Good luck to the team! We will follow closely your path.

You can invest in its development

If you’re interested in investing in this project please visit https://www.startengine.com/carnot-compression and be a part of this breakthrough. Please read the offering below:

Meet Todd Thompson

What we discussed in this episode

  • How Carnot Compression started from scratch (4:30)
  • How does the Carnot Compression Technology Works (10:00)
  • What is the evolution of the technology so far (13:00)
  • About using water bubbles like liquid pistons (16:00)
  • How to scale mass flow and pressure in the compressors (18:00)
  • What is the value proposition with maintenance and design (24:00)
  • How Carnot Compression can reach the CNG market (35:00)
  • The Carnot Compression Roadmap (39:00)

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