The Department of Energy (DOE) has selected a team of appliance industry leaders to develop a combined heat and power system that will provide more reliable and less costly energy for residential use.
The system, commissioned by the DOE, is known in the industry as a Micro-Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system that will generate electricity and then utilize the rejected heat for useful household purposes, such as space and water heating. In addition to these attributes, the prototype will provide emergency power to the home when grid power is lost.
The team selected for the DOE award includes Rheem Manufacturing Co., a major manufacturer of residential and commercial water heaters and commercial boilers; GAMA, a national trade association of manufacturers of residential, commercial, and industrial appliances and equipment; TIAX LLC, a leading collaborative product and technology development firm; and the Propane Education and Research Council, which will provide funding for the project.
Currently, manufacturers have commercialized Micro-CHP systems in both Europe and Japan; however, these products are typically not designed for use in homes with forced air heating. Most foreign Micro-CHP systems also do not provide emergency back-up when grid power is lost, which will be a critical factor now that the U.S. population is aging and increasingly vulnerable to issues of power reliability.