Capstone, 370 kW and “a revolutionary microturbine design”


On May 24th Capstone announced it had been selected by the Department of Energy to develop a 370 kW microturbine with a 42% efficiency.  In the midst of this release was the phrase ‘a revolutionary microturbine design’. What might be behind this phrase? There was at least some insight to come out of the transcript […]

On May 24th Capstone announced it had been selected by the Department of Energy to develop a 370 kW microturbine with a 42% efficiency.  In the midst of this release was the phrase ‘a revolutionary microturbine design’.

What might be behind this phrase?

There was at least some insight to come out of the transcript of the Q&A portion of this past Monday’s conference call.  Towards the end of this portion Mark Gilbreth discusses some aspects of the 370 kW’s design. He first comments “by combining a C250 in a low pressure spool you don’t need a recuperator”. He latter comments that the high pressure spool would be “something very similar to the C65”, but producing about three times the power output. Towards the end of this discussion Mark comments that essentially existing components will be combined in a ‘unique’ way.  Unique being the interesting term here.

Capstone has always taken IP seriously, having a respectable stack of issued patents.  However, a recent look at published applications assigned to Capstone suggests there was a dip in filings.  Namely, the most recent published application and issued patent are the same i.e. issued United States patent  7,614,792. The application from which the above patent stems had a filing date of April 26, 2007 and a publication date of October 30, 2008.  With an 18 month delay between the filing of an application and its publication it appears that no applications were filed in the USPTO between the above filing date and December 15, 2008.

This dry spell will however surely come to an end.  Besides any applications that may have been filed since mid-December 2008, the unique combination of components in the 370’s design will likely already have been or will be scrutinized for patentable subject matter and at some point in the future published applications will again appear at the USPTO.