Before the end of this year, commercial production will start of Allied Signal’s 75 kWe microturbine genset, called the TurboGenerator. Allied Signal is manufacturing the units in Alberquerque, and marketing them with various partners. For example, Unicom, the parent company of the US utility Com Ed, is jointly marketing the TurboGenerator in 10 US states, and in the Canadian province of Ontario.

Allied Signal claims the unit will cost $25 000 to $30 000. The system can use a wide range of fuels, including petrol, diesel, alcohol-based fuels, and natural gas. According to Allied Signal, operating the Turbo-Generator on natural gas would lead to an annual cost of $15 000 pa. The equivalent cost of buying electricity from a utility is estimated at $35 000 pa.

With regard to emissions, Allied Signal claims that it will do considerably better than a typical diesel engine.

The turbine, compressor and generator are mounted on a single shaft supported on air bearings. The single shaft removes the need for a gearbox, and the air bearings remove the need for an oil-based lubricating system.

Jeff Masden, of Unicom, said: "Allied Signal is intent on developing systems at all three levels: residential, commercial and industrial. We would hope to be partners with them at all three levels."