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All Power Labs Wins $2 Million USD Grant for Powertainer Project

Very big news–on January 23rd, All Power Labs won a grant for $2M USD from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to complete commercialization and deployment of the Powertainer. 

This is a continuation of the work we began several years ago with the University of Minnesota and Cummins Power Engineering, to build a 100kW gasifier, engine, and hopper feed system fully enclosed within a 20′ shipping container.  Information and pictures of that project are here.


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The new funding will enable new design and reliability testing cycles to take the Powertainer beyond a prototype and make it a commercial power ready product for highly regulated markets like California.  The CEC grant is focussed on uses for the Powertainer in forestry management and grid balancing via dispatchable generators.  However we all know this platform has relevance globally, across many use situations, so we look forward to it being a generally available product from APL in 2016.

The California Energy Commission is recognized world wide for their leadership in identifying and enabling new energy technologies.  A grant from the CEC is somewhat of a rite of passage and meaningful third party validation for clean tech endeavors in the state.  We are honored they have affirmed our efforts with the Powertainer, and general activities around APL.

The potential market for the Powertainer in California is enormous; 50 megawatts of Feed-In-Tariff have been set aside for energy made from biomass–enough to require 500 Powertainers. Slash piles from forest thinning and general dead wood clearing are a major problem statewide. Instead of the usual burning the problem away, we’ll be avoiding the air pollution and turning the “waste” into clean, on demand renewable energy, and ticking upward the “total renewables” percentage on the state grid.

The grant includes go-to-market strategy work and site identification/development in collaboration with grant partner Sierra Pacific Industries, to plan a statewide deployment of the units.

Emissions testing and value analysis aspects of the project will be conducted by our other grant partners, the University of California at Berkeley Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) and Center for Forestry, and Placer County Air Pollution Control District.

We expect to begin work in the next few months.  Finally, a major project close to home!  (though the other side of the world is always great fun too).

Come see the Powertainer prototype in person at our monthly Open House. If you are in the Bay Area, come by Friday, February 13th, 5-7pm. Enjoy cold beer, hot pizza cooked in a biomass-powered electric over, and learn more about this project & our latest work in other areas. Help us make sure to have enough for all our guests by RSVPing at this address.

All Power Labs Wins a Second Patent for PowerCube/Powertainer


APL has just received our second US patent for the Power Cube/ Powertainer designs.  As you’ll recall, last summer APL earned a US patent on the GEK TOTTI gasifier architecture and heat exchange relationships. This new patent covers the productization of how we integrate this basic gasifier into a full power generation package. The patent captures the concepts and methods for arranging system components so as to create the compact and integrated “biomass-power-in-a-box” solutions as realized with the Power Cube and Powertainer platforms.

Earning this second patent is a major step forward for APL. We have five more in process, with several already done internationally. Now, you may wonder if this means we’re getting away from our open-source, kit-based roots. We are not, however we are adding new chapters to it as APL progresses.

We still strongly support experimentation, continue to publish free plans for download, and a growing knowledge base on all aspects of gasifier system design.  As we have progressed into commercial power products, our goal is to continuing teaching and enabling the core technologies of gasification openly in public, but protect our specific productizations and commercial products that we make on top of this foundation.

We are trying to find a balance between the broad enabling of biomass thermal conversion work, helping to build an industry where previously there was very little, while also controlling the destiny of our particular products.  We are very pleased with the many other small scale gasifier companies that have emerged in recent years out of the general rise in conversation, and plan to continue helping all of us grow.  We need an industry of gasification, collaborating directly and indirectly, and through this process raising all boats, making an old technology newly relevant.

While doing so, APL needs to be able to control the use and propagation of our specific product solutions, thus the patents. Also, investors typically demand patents, and as we are finally taking in some outside money to accelerate our growth, we need to have a solid patent portfolio.

Thank you for your continued interest in our work.  The story continues to develop.

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