A small, smart, turbo startup

Emanuele Guglielmino’s microturbine measures just 14 millimetres wide and is all ready to be launched. But half a million Euros are needed to industrialise it

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It is an alternative, eco-compatible generator able to convert the energy of a flow of air into readily available electrical power. It can be used in areas where there is pressurised gas or air, like gas piping or industrial systems, and can provide power in areas where, for geographical reasons, the traditional supply of electricity by cable is too expensive. The device can produce up to 30 Watts using air at a pressure of one bar, has a ten year lifespan, and does not require any maintenance. The design is innovative, combining both mechanical and electrical components; and it is truly tiny, measuring just 14 mm wide.

It is the Microturbina (microturbine) of Emanuele Guglielmino, 39, a researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology. The product (devised together with the researcher Michele Focchi and now also with the collaboration of Maddalena Garrone) has recently been awarded the “National Prize for Innovation” (with the compliments of President Napolitano), and is also at the centre of a startup project, now several months in the making, with Emanuele Guglielmino as the CEO. «The innovative aspect of the microturbine is its unusual size and design. If you take any motor and make it smaller, it automatically becomes less efficient as a result; but this microturbine, although very small, is no less strong or efficient.»

Guglielmino’s microturbine was designed to solve a real problem: “In recent years, gas and water grids have become much smarter.” More instruments are required, therefore, to monitor these grids. This is where the microturbine comes in: it exploits the pressure of a fluid available locally (like gas) and converts it into electricity for powering the instruments.

The microturbine, on which Guglielmino has worked for three years, is the focus of a startup project. «How many resources do we need? Between 500 thousand and one million Euros,» he explains. «It is a mechanical device that has to guarantee absolute efficiency. This makes the cost of industrialising it relatively high. The interest shown by national and international companies, too, is already considerable».