In 1995, the engineers at Raven began developing a completely new approach to generating AC power from variable-speed power sources such as wind and water. The resulting innovation, protected by a series of patents, produces a pure sine wave from a variable-speed source without traditional inverters or converters. Instead, Raven uses an approach we call Soft Commutation™, accomplishing its wave-shaping work in the low power control electronics. The result is far more efficiency and reliability than current inverter-based systems.
With support from the US Army, Raven set to work to develop its initial application, providing reliable mobile electric power. Product development through field demonstrations was supported by a series of SBIR grants from the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization supplemented by private capital.
In 2002, Raven received a Development Award from the Maine Technology Institute and raised additional private capital to support product testing and commercial launch of the Blackbird™ generator. The Blackbird was commercially available from 2003 – 2012 with over 400 units provided to the fire service market. As of 2013 the Blackbird is available only for specialty applications.
This compact, lightweight generator, whether under-hood belt drive or transmission-mounted PTO drive was installed in a wide range of emergency, construction and utility vehicles. The Blackbird™ provides 60Hz 120 of 240 VAC power regardless of engine speed and without the costs or limitations of inverter systems, the complexity of hydraulic generators, or the size, wieght, and fuel requirements of a stand-alone genset.
As the Blackbird™ continues to be a viable power solution for numerous applications, Raven Technology has developed on-board generators for larger, more specific applications, such as over-the-road referigeration and wind-power.