Engineering alumnus helping military find a powerful solution

June 6, 2013
By Chris Saunders

Kyle Brezina doesn’t hesitate when asked why he came to NC State. “It’s the best engineering school around,” he says.

kyle-by-generator1Brezina, a 2010 College of Engineering graduate, says that a number of electrical engineers go on to careers in video game development or cell phone technology. He even worked as a software contractor for a time before he decided he wanted a job that provided something different.

And that’s just what he got when he joined up in 2012 with Earl Energy, a power and energy company. Brezina is currently an engineer on a project that could lead to greater safety for frontline troops in the U.S. military.

“I jumped on board,” Brezina says. “The fact that I’m contributing to saving lives ultimately attracted me.”

Brezina is the lead engineer in charge of taking Earl Energy’s Flex Gen, a hybrid generator that runs on diesel and batteries, to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Experimental Forward Operating Base in California’s Mojave Desert to demonstrate a more energy efficient system.

The generator takes energy that is usually wasted when its not running at its capacity and transfers that energy into extra power that can be stored in batteries, which are also getting extra energy added to them from solar panels. Then the generator can run offline, meaning anywhere from a 60 to 70 percent savings in the fuel used. That’s big, Brezina says, considering how much fuel can cost in country like Afghanistan that demands transportation across remote locations. “Several admirals and generals say fuel can be anywhere from $40 to $250 a gallon,” he says.

The Flex Gen system at the Mojave Desert demonstration.

The Flex Gen system at the Mojave Desert demonstration.

But it’s the potential saving of lives that Brezina finds the greatest reward. He says Earl Energy is owned and operated by military veterans. Its owners used to see military troops die guarding fuel convoys in places like Afghanistan. So they started the company to help develop more efficient energy means for the military.

Currently, the Marines, the Navy SEALs and the Army have invested in the Flex Gen’s technology, and it’s already being used by the military in Afghanistan. But the technology is so advanced, Brezina says, it is ready to expand into other markets.

“We are looking at other applications,” he says. “The oil and gas market. Maritime, as well.”

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