An energy technology incubator, ClarianLabs in Seattle, has published a patent for a device called the Rotary Piston Generator (RPG) which the company hopes will challenge the idea of what batteries are, and how they’re used, especially in vehicles.
The RPG is a mechanical rather than chemical approach to portable energy storage. Its energy capacity is potentially ten times greater than a typical battery, company representatives wrote in an email exchange with TechCrunch. That depends on the kind of fuel it uses— the invention is essentially a very tiny, highly efficient engine.
ClarianLabs’ published patent shows the RPG contains: “induction armature that rotates around a fixed shaft inside a rotary piston.” As they rotate relative to one another, the parts generate electricity (kind of like a diesel engine).
The RPG doesn’t require a separate generator, starter or gearbox. It can ostensibly run on a variety of fuels, including: gasoline, kerosene, propane, natural gas, ethanol, methanol or hydrogen.
ClarianLabs is pre-revenue, with 5 employees. The company previously won GE’s Consumer Innovation Award in the 2010 Ecomagination Challenge, for its SmartBox Solar module design, which is a “plug-n-play” solar concept for the home. Basically, it’s a small solar panel you can plug your appliances into directly.