Support Heats Up for Distributed Systems

Support Heats Up for Distributed Systems

The U.S. Department of Energy has pledged millions in support for research on efficient building heating, cooling, and power systems.

Seven teams will share $18.5 million to develop on-site distributed energy systems for use in industrial parks, residential development, and manufacturing plants. The work is targeted to improve electric reliability, ease the strain on utility grids, and increase energy and economic efficiency.

In announcing the funding, Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said the systems will take advantage of the heat generated from the conversion of fuel to usable energy. This heat, which typically is wasted, can represent about two-thirds of the energy present in the fuel. By harnessing the heat, Abraham said, overall system efficiencies could improve by 70%.

Facilities using combined cooling, heating, and power systems can recover waste heat from generators, turbines, and engines. Low-temperature waste heat could be used to dehumidify system air.

The teams and projects selected for developing packaged, modular buildings, cooling, heating, and power (BCHP) systems are:
  1. Burns and McDonnell, Kansas City, Mo., partnered with Solar Turbines Inc. and Broad USA
    Funding: Approximately $3,000,000
    Project: Design and construct a BCHP system that provides electricity from a Taurus 5,200 kW turbine generator, up to 3,000 refrigeration tons (RT) of free waste heat driven absorption cooling and up to 17,000 RT of additional supplemental gas-fired cooling.

  2. Capstone Turbine Corporation, Woodland Hills, Calif.
    Funding: Approximately $3,000,000
    Project: Design and test packaged BCHP systems based on waste heat from Capstone's 60 kW microturbines coupled with absorption chillers for air conditioning, and a desiccant for humidity control.

  3. Gas Technology Institute, Des Plaines (Chicago), Ill., partnered with Waukesha and Trane
    Funding: $2,464,202
    Project: Combine Waukesha engine generators with Trane absorption chillers. Engine sizes range from 290 kW to 770 kW (matched to several absorption chillers) producing a modular range of sizes to match a variety of building types and markets.

  4. Honeywell Laboratories, Minneapolis, Minn.
    Funding: $4,259,202
    Project: Develop and field test a large (2 to 5 MW) BCHP packaged system. The turbine generator will be combined with a 500 to 2,000 RT absorption chiller. A prototype will be set up and tested at Fort Bragg, N.C.

  5. Ingersoll Rand, Portsmouth, N.H.
    Funding: $2,305,469
    Project: Combine a new 70 kW microturbine with an ammonia-water absorption refrigeration system. The absorption system will be used to cool the turbine's inlet air and also to produce refrigeration for building space conditioning and for refrigerator-freezer applications.

  6. NiSource Energy Technologies, Merrillville, In.
    Funding: $800,000
    Project: Work with a Hilton Hotel developer to demonstrate a modular packaged BCHP system. The system, three microturbines, heat recovery heat exchangers, an absorption chiller, a desiccant unit, and an integrated control system is targeted at hotel/motel chains with the goal of becoming the standardized model for hotels and motels .

  7. United Technologies Research Center (UTRC), East Hartford, Conn.
    Funding: $2,841,193
    Project: Develop accelerated BCHP system based on off-the-shelf components to make a packaged system within the project's first year; an additional optimized BCHP system also will be developed. Systems will be based on the new 400kW DTE Energy Technologies Microturbine system coupled to Carrier absorption chillers. Both recuperated and un-recuperated microturbine combinations will be used. Possible use of waste heat driven ammonia water refrigeration systems, desiccant systems, and thermal storage also are being evaluated.
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