Thursday, November 16, 2006

It heats. It powers. Is it the future of home energy?



"Down in Bernard Malin's basement is a softly thrumming metal box that turns natural gas into hot water and generates $600 to $800 worth of electricity a year - a bonus byproduct of heating his home.

"It's like printing money," says Mr. Malin, the first person in Massachusetts - perhaps in the nation - to own a residential "micro combined-heat-and-power" system, also known as micro-CHP."



"Since Malin changed his home heating system to micro-CHP in February, 18 other families in the Boston area also have adopted the technology, which squeezes about 90 percent of the useful energy from the fuel. That's triple the efficiency of power delivered over the grid.

Factories and other industrial facilities have used large CHP systems for years. But until the US debut of micro-systems in greater Boston, the units had not been small enough, cheap enough, and quiet enough for American homes.

Home heating systems that produce a kilowatt of electricity - like Malin's - and bigger units that pump out about 4 kilowatts are already available in Europe and Japan. They'll make their commercial US debut in New England in January.

Micro-CHP, by contrast, is an advanced hybrid of existing technologies: an internal-combustion engine generator married to a high-efficiency home furnace.

In Japan, more than 30,000 homeowners have installed micro-CHP systems driven by quiet, efficient internal-combustion engines, each housed in a sleek metal box made by Honda. Japan is ahead because gas utilities have been subsidizing and promoting the systems. In Britain, where the systems look like dishwashers and sit under kitchen counters, 80,000 systems made by a New Zealand company are on order."

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1 comments:

Hannah said...

the power aware cord + this micro-CHP = saving the environment and some money

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