Versatile enough to run on nail polish remover, the flex-fuel generator by INI Power Systems was already an ideal portable power source. But when they were ready to expand the product, INI Power Systems approached Porticos with the challenge: create an adaptor that enabled the generator to also consume compressed gas, such as propane. Expanding functionality while maintaining the generator’s portable size required extensive creativity and expert design. The Porticos design team met these challenges and developed an adaptor to fit all of the INI Power System requests.
The INI Power Systems generator, the IG2000-IC, was released in 2012. Designed to run on practically any liquid fuel, the generator can draw power from diesel, jet-fuel, gasoline, and even less-traditional sources like alcohol and nail-polish remover. Basically, if a liquid burns, the IG2000-IC can turn it into electric power. This adaptability makes the IG2000-IC ideal for military operations, especially Forward Operating Bases where the availability of fuel may be uncertain.
Last November, INI Power Systems approached Porticos with a request for a new adapter that would allow the already versatile IG2000-IC to also consume compressed gas, such as propane and butane. To reach this goal, the Porticos design team had to first figure out the fluid-control circuit: multiple valves, regulators and governors. The engineers then determined what components were available to perform the needed functions and how efficiently they could be packed into an ergonomic device. Some clever mechanical architecture was needed to accomplish all goals in a portable device.
The resulting product, the Universal Propane Adapter Kit™ (or The UPAK™), is no larger than a hardback book and requires very little capital expenditure to fabricate. The project was finished in February, and INI Power Systems began building units for sale in May—only six months after requesting the adaptor from Porticos.
The UPAK™ allows for fast and easy connection to several common compressed-fuel vessels and is adaptable to many others. It controls pressure and flow-rate, and does it in a rugged, compact package that can be easily carried in a pack or gear case. The enclosure is constructed of thin but high-strength aircraft aluminum, making the kit both durable and lightweight.
The UPAK™ controls allow for users to make adjustments, which is important at very high altitudes and in temperature extremes.
According to Larry Markoski, President of INI Power Systems, “Porticos was extremely flexible as we figured out what we needed this device to do. It’s a success story. The UPAK™ design is extremely popular. The first few dozen units were purchased as soon as we built them.”
The UPAK™ is a classic example of how the Porticos design team can help companies expand products, and it’s a remarkable example of a low-cost solution that provides the potential for high profitability.
About Porticos — Porticos, Inc. is a mechanical engineering and product development company located in Research Triangle Park, NC. Established in 2003, Porticos continues to produce innovative and effective solutions for its clients and the markets they serve. Porticos, Inc. provides mechanical design, analysis, research and development services to clients including Dell, Motorola, Raytheon, and many others. For more information on how Porticos does “product design for the way we’re designed,” please visit www.porticos.net.
About INI Power Systems — INI Power Systems (INI) is an alternative energy company providing evolutionary hybrid power solutions to Defense, Government, and Consumer markets. INI’s core mission objective is to provide innovative, convenient, and tactical power solutions that DO NOT have a strong dependence on foreign oil supplies. INI was founded in 2002 to develop advanced direct liquid fuel cell technology and currently supplies the most efficient and flexible fuel cell generation system in the sub 1kW range. The company is a small US business located in the Research Triangle Region of North Carolina. For more information, please visit www.inipowersystems.com.