The following is from the June 13, 2008, edition of The Dallas Business Journal.

SMU takes 'green machine' for test drive

By Margaret Allen
Staff writer

Southern Methodist University is allowing a Texas Gulf Coast company to demonstrate zero-emission electricity generation on its campus.

The equipment, distributed exclusively in Texas and Louisiana by Bay City-based Gulf Coast Green Energy, is called the "Green Machine" because it uses no fuel to generate electricity.

Instead, the closed-loop cycle takes industrial waste heat or geothermal energy, uses it to heat refrigerant, which expands into high-pressure vapor that in turn drives a generator. Waste heat is heat that is generated as a by-product of an industrial process.

The "Green Machine" has been temporarily installed on a boiler at SMU. It's the first time the equipment has been installed for use commercially, said Gulf Coast CEO Loy Sneary.

Developed and manufactured by Nevada-based ElectraTherm Inc., the equipment generates 50 kilowatts of electricity an hour, which is enough to power 40-50 homes, Sneary said.

"It's almost a research project that SMU is allowing us to do," Sneary said. "Texas is the first site for the commercial application."

The cost of the equipment and the installation at SMU was $130,000, Sneary said. The university hasn't bought the machine nor does it endorse it, but it is evaluating the equipment to see if the technology works and would be worthwhile for the university, said Michael Paul, SMU's director of energy management and engineering.

"We think it's great technology, and certainly we want to look into it," Paul said.

SMU wanted the equipment up and running to demonstrate it at the International Geothermal Energy Utilization Conference, which runs June 17-18 on the SMU campus. The conference is sponsored by the SMU Geothermal Lab.

ElectraTherm's "green machine" won "Best of Show" at the 2007 Geothermal Energy Association Trade Show in Reno, Nev. One of its advantages is its small footprint, given that it can fit on a 4-foot by 8-foot skid and stands no more than 6-feet 6-inches tall, Sneary said.

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