The mobile generator can store up to 120 kilowatts of energy, enough to power a home, relief effort or major sporting event.
As an engineer, Casimir Sienkiewicz has worked on mouse-like user controls for implantable sleep apnea devices, military-grade radio casings designed to work in war zones and heart pump rotors no bigger than your fingernail.
His engineering firm, Caztek, brought a bit of all three design standards to its newest prototype — the GridPak, a rolling, solar-powered electrical generator designed, developed and manufactured in downtown St. Paul.
Equipped with some 4,000 pounds of lithium batteries and measuring 18 feet in length, the boat-sized generator and its moving solar array can be taken into rugged, off-road terrain to power anything from a disaster relief effort to a golf tournament or outdoor music fair through the power of the sun. Caztek created GridPak for Trystar, a Faribault-based power distribution company better known for producing box panels, transformers and industrial cables.
“If you’re consuming what you’re generating off the solar array … you’re charged up,” said Sienkiewicz, standing with his back to the downtown St. Paul skyline and the Mississippi River in a parking lot off Robert Street. Sunbathing in front of him was prototype unit TS120-001, its solar panels rotating toward the sun with a push of its touchscreen from lead engineer Brett Neubauer.
That’s “TS” as in Trystar, “120” as in 120 kilowatts of energy storage, and “001” as in it’s the first of what’s expected to be many more to come.
Sienkiewicz bills GridPak as the first rapidly deployable, zero-carbon-emission portable generator with industrial-grade battery capacity.
In other words, it’s big, it’s solar, it stores a lot of power and it rolls. It’s also noiseless, odorless and connected to the data cloud by touchscreen, making it about as far removed from a roaring, smelly, diesel-powered portable generator as a smartphone is to a walkie-talkie. It can even track energy use over time.
‘Inventors and problem solvers’
Caztek, once based in the Allen Building on Seventh Street in St. Paul’s Lowertown, moved about five years ago to Pine Street and University Avenue, not far from the St. Paul Police Department and the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center. The Pine Street location offers more product development space, but Sienkiewicz is already eying opportunities for expansion into neighboring properties.
Sienkiewicz said he and his firm of about 15 engineers, electricians and other “inventors and problem solvers” are launching about 10 products annually by offering industries “a fresh set of eyes” on old technology, like portable diesel generators that could use a tech refresh.