Environmental news from California and beyond

« Previous Post | Greenspace Home | Next Post »

Chatsworth firm could put a little Prius power in trains

March 1, 2010 |  6:01 pm


Could Los Angeles’ subway system soon operate hybrid trains?  Pentadyne Power hopes so.

The Chatsworth-based company, a leader in flywheel energy storage, sells uninterrupted power supply systems to institutions such as hospitals, data storage centers and airports that can’t afford to have the power go out, even for a minute.  

Flywheel systems use energy to spin a rotor inside a low-friction vacuum.  During power outages, the rotor becomes an interim generator that provides instantaneous power until conventional backup generators take over.  In California, Pentadyne’s clients include Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, TGF Linux Communications in Irvine and San Jose airport.  In 2008, Pentadyne was recognized as the Los Angeles area’s single fastest growing private company.  In 2009, it grew by an additional 10%.

At the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco recently, Pentadyne Chief Executive Mark McGough sought $11 million to commercialize the firm’s new offerings for electric rail. “We can literally turn a train into a hybrid,” said McGough.

Toyota’s hybrid, the Prius, captures energy during braking to recharge the car’s battery.  Similarly, Pentadyne’s flywheels enable trains to absorb and reuse braking energy.  The firm recently won a $4-million contract to install its technology at a Long Island, N.Y., railroad station, Malverne.

“New York City is a thought leader,” said McGough.  “With no marketing whatsoever, [through] word of mouth, we’ve been asked for over a dozen [price] quotes for systems as far away as Prague and Warsaw and Beijing and Hong Kong, not to mention D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles. Metropolitan Transit Authorities are interested in deploying our technology, and it’s a fundamental reason we are looking for capital so that we can go after that market with zeal.”
Before being selected for the New York pilot project, Pentadyne tested its technology in Paris and London.  In due time, it may also deploy closer to home.

-- Yoni Cohen

Image credit: Pentadyne Power Corp.