Sometimes you just need power where there isn’t any. You might be the first to arrive at a remote construction or mining site. Maybe you’re setting up a base camp for a scientific team. Or maybe power has simply been knocked out and there’s no quick fix, but you must have power for a clinic or other critical operation.
Whatever the situation, in the past, you’d have to set up a generator and burn fuel continuously until a more permanent solution is established. But the X3-20 Portable Power System, from X3 Energy, a division of Van Straten Brothers Inc., Baraga, Mich., offers a more economical and environmentally conscious solution.
The X3-20 contains a 12 kW wind turbine, 5 kW solar panels (expandable to 20 kW), and batteries to deliver power with zero emissions as long as the wind, sun, or both are strong enough to meet demand. And in times of low demand, surplus power from the wind turbine and solar collectors is routed to a bank of rechargeable batteries. As long as the batteries are charged, they can provide 4.6 to 10 kW of power even when wind and solar energy can’t — thereby delaying the need to fire up the X3-20’s gas or diesel engine driven generator as a last resort.
Smart controls manage all three power sources automatically. The array of batteries is wired to a power converter that delivers 12 or 24 Vdc; an inverter also delivers clean ac power at 120, 208, 240, or 480 Vac, single or triple-phase, 50 or 60 Hz.
Wattage in a package
Once it has been transported to a site, the X3-20 requires only a few steps for setup. First, the levelers are set in place, then the hydraulic power unit is energized. The hydraulic system was designed by Steve Musil, Fluid Power Manager, Central Div., at Motion Industries. Musil said the HPU consists of a 20-gal reservoir with a 5-hp electric motor driving a 3-gpm gear pump operating at pressure to 2500 psi. Fluid cleanliness is maintained through 10 μm filtration. Leveler cylinders are positioned using pilot-operated check valves for safety.
The operator then deploys the wind turbine’s mast using a handheld pendant wired to an electrohydraulic controller. The mast is positioned horizontally for transport, so after it is no longer in its locked position, it can be pivoted to vertical. Musil explained that this is accomplished with a 4-in. bore, 15.37-in. stroke, double-acting cylinder. The mast extends from full horizontal to full vertical in about 16 sec, and a counterbalance circuit is provided for safety. Once the mast has been locked in place, it can be raised to its full height.
According to Musil, this is accomplished using a 212-in. bore, 112-in. stroke cylinder, which fully extends in about 48 sec. This circuit is also protected by a counterbalance valve, and both mast circuits use standard directional control valves and flow-control valves to limit speed.
Once the mast has been secured in place, the operator then unfolds the solar cells, connects any expansion cells, then throws the main power switch.
Hitting the road
X3 Energy offers an even more portable version of its portable power system. The X3 Mobile 50 can be towed by a pickup or large SUV and deployed by a single person using hydraulics similar to that in the X3-20. The X3 Mobile 50 comes with a 50 kW Slipstream wind turbine, which can provide steady power at wind speeds down to 5 mph. Optional battery power storage banks can provide up to 72 hr of continuous power, and a diesel powered generator is also optional.