Thursday, 9 April 2009

Cereal, Friend, Car or CHP?

Imagine you bought a house in the middle of nowhere, beautiful, romantic and no electric grid connection; an “island off the grid”.

  • If you belonged to house buyer type “C” you would sit and have your cereal while the sun goes down and you would try to make it to bed before it became too dark to find it.

    The more comfortable solution would be to get a diesel generator supplying electricity.

  • House buyer type “B” would sweat on his bicycle while charging a battery to be able to watch TV and have some light, at least.

    The more comfortable solution would be to watch a friend riding the bike.

  • House buyer type “A” would avoid all this by modifying his car’s engine to where a PTO connection drove an electric generator instead of the gearbox – thus he’d have sufficient electricity and what is more he would connect the cooling system of the car to the central heating system and warm up the house.

    Basically he combined the generation of power and heat both coming from one source; the car’s engine revealed its true application of being a Combined Heat and Power unit, which at the same time boosted its efficiency dramatically by no longer just taking one person from A to B and back.

Using a CHP unit in an island-solution, an off-grid building or home (has) had its challenges, but it is all very possible and demonstrated here; it has supplied exactly what was needed in electricity and heat for the last three years and just that.

What turned out to be more challenging than developing the system is to make people understand the logic behind this highly efficient device: +92%; but in general terms CHP systems produce 1/3 of electric and 2/3 of thermal energy with the electricity being the much higher ranked energy; so it is a faulty comparison to evaluate a modern boiler’s efficiency of +92% with producing heat, “only”, and the above +92% of a CHP unit producing both energy forms.

Simple, known, proven technology driving efficiency.

Latest CHP systems on the market allow for the replacing of conventional boilers and building up an intelligent, decentralised grid supply; with efficiency levels drastically improved they will help to see an environmental turnaround.

Carpe diem!


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