Mainspring Energy and PG&E just announced the deployment of a linear generator—a new mobile power generation technology utilizing renewable biogas to displace existing diesel generation—at PG&E’s Angwin distribution microgrid site in Napa County. The linear generator will help ensure clean, reliable power during emergencies like heat waves, winter storms or earthquakes, and Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events. The linear generator is connected to both PG&E’s electric and natural gas systems and will use biogas fuel that is renewably produced at another location.
Mainspring’s breakthrough technology, based on research originally conducted by the company’s co-founders at Stanford University, is designed to meet grid demands by delivering dispatchable, fuel-flexible power that substantially reduces cost and carbon today, while accelerating the transition to the net-zero carbon grid. One of the unique characteristics of the 240-kilowatt Mainspring linear generator is that it can ramp up and down quickly to meet power load demands at a fraction of the emissions of reciprocating engine technologies.
“Extreme weather events and the rise of electrification are driving increasing demands on the electric grid for resiliency at affordable costs. At the same time, we need to be moving rapidly toward a net-zero-carbon grid,” said Mainspring CEO Shannon Miller. “Mainspring designed our platform to meet this challenge, and we’re proud that our product is now deployed to help PG&E and its customers to address these challenges and provide them with a cleaner, resilient, and affordable source of power.”
A linear generator—distinct from an engine, microturbine, or fuel cell—is a device that directly converts motion along a straight line into electricity using chemical or thermal energy. The design of Mainspring’s linear generator uses a low-temperature reaction of air and fuel to drive magnets through copper coils to efficiently produce electricity. This innovative design, combined with the company’s proprietary adaptive control software, enables high efficiency, near-zero NOx emissions, full dispatchability, and seamless switching between fuels.
The product achieves low capital and maintenance costs through use of standard materials, only two moving parts, and an innovative air bearing system that eliminates the need for oil. It operates without the use of complex mechanical systems or expensive catalysts.
Driven by its vision of the affordable, reliable, net-zero carbon grid of the future, Mainspring is delivering a new category of power generation — the linear generator — that delivers onsite, dispatchable, fuel-flexible power at low cost. Based in Menlo Park, Calif., Mainspring is backed by top-tier venture, strategic, and financial investors. www.mainspringenergy.com.