Mar 2011 – Nevada Appeal

Langson unveils system to put wasted pressure to use

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March 18, 2011
by: Brian Duggan, Nevada Appeal

Inside Richard Langson’s Carson City workshop is one of the dragsters he used to race. He refers to it as the “not so green machine,” one designed to bum gallons of fuel in a matter of seconds in a thunderous demonstration of controlled energy. It’s pretty, but not environmentally friendly, he says.

It’s also a relic of Langson’s past, especially compared to the other machine in his workshop that sits about 20 feet away. It’s called a gas letdown generator, and if Langson’s track record in the green energy market is any indicator, it could be the next big thing when it comes to producing clean electricity and jobs in Carson City.

“I used to drive those top-fuel dragsters, pollute the environment with nitro-methane,” Langson said. “Now we’re giving it back a little bit.”

The generator uses the same twin-screw turbine technology he started to develop about a decade ago that led to the formation of ElectraTherm, a company now based in Reno that manufactures electrical generators powered by the waste heat produced by industrial processes. Langson sold his interest in the company a year ago.

Langson has spent the last year self-financing and developing his new machine, which uses the pressure from natural gas lines to turn a turbine and generate electricity, up to 50 megawatts.

“That could power 40,000 homes if we have enough pressure and flow and there are stations that have that kind of flow,” he said.

If his gas letdown generator takes off, Langson said within two years he wants to build a 30,000 square foot production facility on the four• acre lot next to his workshop off of Hot Springs Road and employ more than 100 people.

Langson and his colleagues at Langson Energy, his Carson City-based company, flew to Amsterdam Saturday to attend Gastech, a major trade show for the oil and gas industry. While there they’re hoping to generate some interest in the new product.

Their market are the 3 million natural gas letdown stations his company has identified around the world.

A natural gas letdown station is one point along the natural gas grid that reduces the pressure carrying the fuel, which is as high as 1,000 pounds per square inch in the largest pipelines to a fraction of that once it’s used by a homeowner.

The idea is to hookup the machine at a letdown station where the pressure of the natural gas is 600 psi or less. From there the gas can then flow through the machine, spin a turbine and produce anywhere from 1 megawatt to 50 megawatts of power, depending on the size of the machine.

From there the electricity can travel to nearby power lines and population centers. His company is in the process of installing a generator at a letdown station in Stead.

“This machine is really designed for any kind of gas or even fluids like geothermal,” Langson said. Other applications could be nitrogen that spews out of oil wells, which could provide power on site.

“It’s pretty flexible,” Langson said.

Langson said the electricity generated by the machine would cost between 1.5 cents to 2.5 cents per kilowatt compared to about 10 cents for solar power and 5 cents to 7 cents for geothermal, for example. “I think the key is we’ve come up with a low-cost solution that nobody else has,” he said.

Mar 2011 – Northern Nevada Business Weekly


Langson unveils system to put wasted pressure to use

by: John Seelmeyer

The curtain rises in Amsterdam next week on the second act of Richard Langson’s career as a creator of technology to generate electricity from energy that otherwise goes to waste.

Langson Energy Inc. will unveil technology that captures the pressure that’s released from natural gas pipelines as gas is prepared for delivery to individual customers. The company’s technology then uses the pressure to drive a generator.Upload PDF version

With any luck, Langson expects to bring one significant contract home with him to Carson City from Gastech 2011, an international meeting of executives from the natural gas industry.

He’s accustomed to winning.

As a race-car driver and builder, Langson beat out the legendary Don “Big Daddy” Garlits for the International Hot Rod Association world championship in 1993.

The superchargers used in dragsters spurred the thinking that led Langson to create technology that uses waste energy from industrial applications to drive generators that produce electricity.

He sold his interest in ElectraTherm Inc., the company built around the heat-recovery technology, to an investor group a year ago.

The sale completed, Langson got to work on his next big idea in a nondescript shop building up a rut-filled, muddy lane at the north edge of Carson City.

His thought: Natural gas pipelines compress gas to 1,000 pounds per square inch to deliver it across the country. But pressures are reduced dramatically – sometimes as low as 2 pounds per square inch – when gas is delivered to homes.

Utilities traditionally have simply reduced the pressure through valves.

Langson Energy Inc., however, replaces the valve at the gas letdown station with a device that captures the pressure and uses it to drive a twin-screw generator to produce electricity.

The market? About 3 million letdown stations are located around the United States, Langson says, and European locations may be an even more attractive market.

A one-megawatt Langson Energy system with an installed cost of $1.6 million would pay for itself in less than two years if power is priced at 10 cents a kilowatt hour. And the payback doesn’t include any incentives. (Nevada doesn’t include power produced from recovered pressure in its definition of renewable energy; about half the states allow its use for conservation incentives.)

Because gas letdown facilities typically are located in urban areas, connections to the electric grid will be easy, Langson says.

Much as he hopes to come back from Amsterdam with a contract in his pocket, Langson also-is looking for utilities willing to give the letdown generation system a test. The company just manufactured a trailer-mounted unit, and Langson says he’s talking with several major utilities and Fortune 500 companies about taking it out for a test spin.

Financing the new company himself, Langson wants to create new jobs for Carson City, where his family has been at home for 60 years.

Within a couple of years, he expects Langson Energy will build a 25,000-squarefoot headquarters and research facility, and he expects the company could employ as many as 130 once it gears up assembly operations.

The company currently employs five, with a cadre of 16 consulting engineers across the country offering their advice.