Archer Enterprises , a New South Wales engineering company helped Granite Power develop a new breed of power generation technology in Australia.
Australian company Granite Power, which is funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) required Archer Enterprises to manufacture highly complex stainless steel and titanium components with very fine tolerances including multiple versions that were fractions of a millimetre different in order to simulate their changing dimensional behaviour under extreme operating temperatures.
Granite Power Research Project Manager, Sean McCracken worked closely with Archer throughout the design and manufacturing stages up to the full assembly at Archer's purpose-built facility.
He explained that Archer helped them with the design phase and was then responsible for making the front end assembly of the impulse turbine for the Granex waste heat recovery demonstration model. The Granex technology captures waste heat from a power generator and re-uses it through the Granex heat conversion system. Moving at more than Mach 1.7 through the front nozzle, the waste heat hits the turbine blades and drives them at 70,000RPM. Internal temperatures vary between 200 and 260 degrees Celsius.
Describing the project as ambitious, Sean said that the overseas technology they wanted was expensive; to make it a commercial application they needed to find a way of reducing the cost. Having Archer make the assembly in Australia gave Granite Power far greater cost efficiencies.
Archer had to manufacture complex parts such as the impeller, with the machining of the impeller alone taking two hours. They also made multiple versions of one part that were fractions of a millimetre apart to mimic the changes that the component would undergo due to the extreme temperature changes in the turbine.
Granite Power Chief Executive Officer Stephen de Belle adds that their breakthrough Granex technology has attracted the attention of countries around the world. Developed in conjunction with the University of Newcastle, the technology has already received enquiries from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh and Africa.
According to Archer Enterprises co-director Brad Byrne, Granite Power gave them an opportunity to produce fail-safe parts that needed to work non-stop in extreme operating conditions. He comments that Archer likes to take on new challenges; with a wide range of equipment in place and the combined expertise of their team, Archer is equipped to take up developmental manufacturing projects for R&D, making working prototypes, producing low volume runs of complex and specialised components, and helping to test them.