State firms pioneers in boosting electric efficiency:

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Indiana already has a number of firms working on technology aimed at boosting energy efficiency and capacity.

Early this month, Indianapolis-based Trexco LLC said the U.S. Patent Office awarded it two dozen patents for a cooling system it has developed for large electrical transformers, such as those used at utility substations.

The “transformer extender” is designed to stretch the capacity and lifespan of the transformers, which typically cost $2 million to $5 million and are the size of a Mack truck, said T. Dan Bailey, chief operating officer. Bailey previously was director of research at Indianapolis-based Reilly Industries.

Using a proprietary technology, the device cools the 30,000 to 40,000 pounds of oil in the transformers. A prototype is being tested at Wellman Furnaces in Shelbyville, which is set to begin manufacturing the units next year.

Trexco was formed in 2001 with $3 million in private funding and with state and federal grants. The University of Indianapolis has been helping ensure the device complies with industry requirements. Early next year, the National Electric Energy Test Research and Applications Center will perform a full-scale test of the device on a transformer.

“We’re going to go into immediate production after the trials,” said Bailey, whose firm is based out of 101 W. Ohio St. downtown. “We’ve been below the radar screen. We’re in an industry that
doesn’t attract much attention.”

Better known in business circles is Anderson-based iPower Technologies, which makes natural-gas-powered generators for industry. Such generators often run continuously and may be interconnected with the power grid.

Some analysts see a booming market for the units in the years ahead, since they would reduce demand on conventional power plants and have less environmental impact.

The five-year old company is a joint venture of Delco Remy International and AeroVironment of California.

Dan Bailey, COO of Trexco LLC, with components used in transformer cooling device. Production is to begin in 2006.

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