A groundbreaking collaboration between Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Enginuity Power Systems has yielded impressive results in the field of micro-combined heat and power (mCHP) technology. The research team has successfully demonstrated that a prototype mCHP system, featuring a piston engine, can achieve an outstanding overall energy efficiency rating of over 93%.
The purpose of this innovative system is to replace conventional backup generators and gas hot water heaters. By utilizing a versatile design that seamlessly switches between natural gas, hydrogen, and biogas, in addition to incorporating battery storage and solar energy, the mCHP offers a comprehensive solution. It effectively captures and repurposes heat that would otherwise go to waste, delivering thermal energy on a small scale to individual buildings. This multi-functional approach results in significantly higher efficiency compared to conventional equipment with single functions.
Lead researcher Zhiming Gao from ORNL expressed his enthusiasm, stating that the results of the evaluation surpassed their expectations. Even in lean burn mode, where heat is not provided, the mCHP achieved electrical energy efficiency of more than 35%.
The potential implications of this breakthrough are far-reaching, particularly for remote and underserved communities. The mCHP system’s environmentally friendly and cost-effective nature makes it a viable option for small residential and commercial buildings, addressing energy needs and bringing sustainable power to areas previously lacking in access.
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory