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Frequently Asked Questions


Here we answer the most common questions about nGeni, what it is, why it is so important for solving the global energy crisis and climate change and how it can radically transform every aspect of our modern world. For more a more in-depth coverage of the questions discussed here please check out our blog and sign up for updates.

 01  What is the thinking behind nGeni?

The underlying principle of nGeni is that with a small amount of energy as an operating force, we can move a much larger amount of energy from point to point in the environment, thereby creating an energy multiplying effect. Devices already exist that can perform this function, such as reverse cycle air conditioning, which delivers more thermal power output than electrical power input. nGeni refines, generalises and expands on this concept.

Every energy conversion process has losses - almost 100% of energy losses in most systems are in the form of heat. If we build a system that operates mostly in the thermal energy domain and works by recycling heat, then the vast majority of those losses can be recouped, vastly increasing the overall system efficiency. nGeni takes this approach - a modular, scalable thermal system that links the concept of cascaded over unity performance with integrated conversion into other forms of usable power.


In essence, nGeni is a thermal energy transformer that converts system heat back into motive or electrical power only where and when required. This is the opposite of most existing energy systems that convert various forms of energy into electricity, transmit it over long distances and then convert most of it back to heat at the point of use, with large losses all along the way and at the point of use. Operating in the heat domain allows devices to be simple, easy to construct using mostly common materials and very cheap to implement at scale, at or near the point of use. This substantially reduces energy losses not only in the operating system, but also in the construction of the infrastructure that delivers it.


 02  Why is this so important for climate change and the global energy crisis?

Most of our energy requirements are attributable to thermal energy based applications, including for the production of electricity (even using wind turbines or photovoltaics). Heating, cooling and mechanical motive power, such as in engines, are thermodynamic processes and consume by far the largest proportion of our global energy. Almost universally, we pour vast amounts of energy and fuels into such processes with no thought about where the energy goes when we have finished using it.

Overall, we estimate that some 88% of all primary energy used is wasted in the current energy systems. There is absolutely no way we can effectively address the Climate Emergency and all other related ecological, social and financial challenges while whole system efficiency remains so appallingly low.

We discard most of the energy we get from fossil fuels and release huge amounts of carbon dioxide in the process. What is hidden from the climate change debate is that as we get closer to the bottom of the global oil barrel and are forced to mine resources that are much more remote, deeper and of lesser quality, it takes more and more oil to keep our energy supply chains moving, releasing more carbon dioxide for the same amount of net energy that gets delivered. Our energy transition strategies are still completely dependent on liquid fossil fuels with no available alternatives in sight before the energy costs of producing transport fuels become greater than the energy those fuels contain. That is, we are growing close to a point where our liquid fossil fuel supply chains will fail to deliver a net energy return. When the day arrives that we get less energy out of oil than we have to put in, the ongoing supply of transport fuels will abruptly stop, regardless of reserves.


All other energy supply chains, including wind, solar and biomass based so-called “renewables”, nuclear, as well as food supplies for human labour, are completely dependent on liquid fossil fuels for delivery, implementation, maintenance and recycling, so it follows that they will all also grind to halt. At this point there will be nothing we can do to jump start them again and we will see the final chapter of the energy crisis. No amount of money can remedy this since without access to energy there can be no economic activity and therefore no value left anywhere in the system - money as we have come to know it will have completely lost its purchasing power. We call this sharp collapse in the energy supply chain the “Energy Seneca”.


As we scramble to fuel our transition to renewables, we are using more fossil fuels, less efficiently and we are actually accelerating carbon emissions in the process. We WILL NOT succeed in transitioning off fossil fuels before we run out if we follow the present strategy. We must instead focus on increasing the efficiency of the systems we already have whilst we transition to a solar thermal economy. This is the real challenge - climate change and excess fossil fuel use are two side effects of the underlying problem. By focusing on increasing thermal energy efficiency using a systemic approach, we deal with fossil fuel depletion, climate change and over exploitation of resources, all in one hit.

 03  So we just need to capture waste heat??? It can't be that simple!

Yes it can, and it is.

In reality there is thermal energy all around us, just waiting for us to reach out and use it. If we could redesign our global energy systems to do what nature has been doing for about 4 billion years and simply move heat around, concentrating it where and when it is needed and reusing it elsewhere or storing it when it is not needed, instead of continuously pouring it into devices that throw it off into the environment, then the vast majority of our energy consumption (at least 80%) would simply vanish. Sounds too good to be true, right? Let's take a systems approach.

If we look at all the renewable strategies being proposed now the main choices all somehow trace their ultimate source of energy back to solar power. Hydroelectric, solar photovoltaic and wind turbines are all inefficient and resource intensive mechanisms for capturing energy driven by the sun. What if we could capture that solar thermal power directly in a simple modular device at 10 to 20 times the efficiency and without the huge investment in fossil fuels, resources and energy required to implement it? What if we could then use that captured solar heat to move more heat to where it is needed? When we start to think about things in terms of energy flows within the system then the nGeni philosophy comes into focus.

The heat pump concept used in nGeni is vastly more effective than conventional refrigerant based devices due to the very high temperatures employed at the top of the cascading process. Transition to a fully solar powered economy, whilst retaining our ability use carbon neutral fuelled combustion processes is completely possible and is a lot closer than you think.

 04  What is the principle of operation of the nGeni GreenBox?

The nGeni GreenBox is a multistage mechanical heat pump, driven by an external heat source, which can be solar, waste process heat, combustion or geothermal to give a few examples. The input stage operates at very high temperature, ideally over 1000 deg.C and the GreenBox provides cascaded outputs at several temperatures between the high input stage temperature to below freezing. Each stage can act as a heat source or a heat sink allowing heat to be pumped out or drawn in from a process.

These processes could be cooking equipment, a hot water service, space heating, refrigerators or a freezer. They could also include pneumatics or motive power via an air expansion process. The difference in temperature between the application process and the stage temperature of the GreenBox is what drives the thermal movement processes within the unit. The driveshaft of the GreenBox can also be connected to a gearbox or generator to provide motive or electric power.

The entire unit operates under microprocessor control and directs air flows into and out of the various heat stages to move thermal power to the various points of use. The required power input is calculated constantly and is delivered from a controlled source such as a burner or from a heatsink that holds stored solar energy from a collector. In this way, the only power input required is for driving the transfer of energy within a closed system, say a house, a factory or several blocks of apartments and to cover the losses from energy leaving the complete system.


 05  What's inside the nGeni GreenBox?

The nGeni Greenbox employs a combination of screw compressors and expanders acting as positive displacement pumps, connected by a common rotating shaft, with intermediate heat exchangers. Air is used as the heat carrying medium through the device and the heat exchanger at each stage interfaces the air running through the GreenBox with the endpoint heat powered systems. As hot air runs through each screw expander it reduces in temperature, driving the device and providing the lower temperature required for the next stage. The final stages draw in air at room temperature and use heat pump functionality to provide cooling, refrigeration and freezing capability. The device as a complete system operates on what is known as the Brayton-Ericsson thermodynamic cycle which, when properly controlled, approaches the highest theoretical thermal efficiency of any mechanical thermodynamic process.

By cascading these outputs and providing thermal power at a range of temperatures suited to each task, the maximum amount of energy is extracted from the device for all possible applications. Energy that is driven through the GreenBox for use at an endpoint can be redirected back into the device when no longer needed as waste heat to be recycled elsewhere. In this way, nGeni can use waste and residual heat from a wide variety of processes and recycle it continuously through multiple stages, in multiple devices or even across multiple locations at once, only requiring sufficient power to move the energy that is already available in the environment, regardless of temperature.

The name nGeni is a reference to the any number n of energy flow outputs that can be delivered by one GreenBox to meet end-user requirements. It is also a conflation of "engine", "regenerate" and "génie" (derived from the French word for "engineering").

 06  My friends still don't get it - how can I explain nGeni to them?

nGeni can be a bit of a brain bender at first. When you explain it, remember it is more than just the GreenBox, it is the whole way we use energy that has to change. The GreenBox is just the machine that gets us there. The following points will help keep it all in focus:

1) It takes energy to get energy. This means it takes oil to get oil. Once we get less out than we put in then there's no more oil, no matter how much is still in the ground. This is expected to happen within 10-20 years. Every barrel of oil we pull up requires more barrels of oil to be burnt as fuel and emits more pollution than the previous barrel, so even if we held consumption constant our oil needs and carbon would still increase exponentially. There is no way out.

2) Everything else relies on oil. That means coal, gas, "renewables", nuclear, raw materials, food, manufacturing, everything. When there's no more oil, there's no more of anything to power our world.

3) The GreenBox takes a small amount of heat to move a large amount of heat and it can recycle much of the 88% of global energy that is presently lost, many times over. This creates an energy multiplying effect. There's nothing magic or mystical about it, nature does it by default.

4) The fact that the GreenBox can run off any source of heat means that we can replace our existing energy supply chains immediately with a solar powered solution that doesn't require the mining, manufacturing, transport and disposal of inefficient devices that don't generate a net positive return on energy.


5) The use of a simple device with an energy multiplying effect, close to the point of use means a GreenBox pays back its own energy cost almost immediately. Other solutions never pay themselves off over their lifetime and liquid fossil fuels always make up at least part of the energy gap. With every solar or wind installation we mine and build, this energy gap and carbon emissions grow larger due to the decreasing energy return of the oil industry. The renewable and electric vehicle supply chain is not self-powering and never can be.

6) The high solar energy capture capabilities of nGeni mean that the production of carbon neutral, high energy density fuels is possible so aviation, sea and road transport that rely on combustion can still continue to function as key mechanisms in our global economy. In the new solar powered fuel economy, combustion engines based on nGeni technology will be able to do 300% more with 200% less and can be 100% carbon neutral. Once nGeni has gained sufficient uptake we will be able to have a completely self powered, carbon neutral fuel supply chain and our existing industries will be able to continue to function without replacing infrastructure.


A self-powered energy supply chain is the holy grail of global sustainability - no other technology has even come close to offering this prize.


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