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WORKING TOGETHER WITHAlpha Heating Innovationwww.alpha-innovation.co.ukEnergy Saving Trust

Company news

Published: Thursday 18 September 2008

Weather compensation is regularly installed in Northern Europe to enhance comfort and fuel efficiency.

This technology varies the heat output of the boiler according to the out door temperature, thus ensuring that the boiler doesn't use too much gas. Comfort is enhanced as the rooms do not have to cool down to turn on the boiler for more heat, which is how a room thermostat works. Energy is saved by ensuring that maximum boiler out put is hardly ever used. We expect most UK boiler manufacturers to be launching weather compensation control to their boiler ranges to ensure that a minimum energy rating is achieved.

Micro CHP (Combined Heat & Power)

Installing CHP is a way of making savings when compared to traditional systems. Due to the high fuel efficiency of CHP plants, the carbon dioxide emissions per kWh of electricity or heat generated are relatively low. A well-designed and operated CHP plant will therefore improve energy efficiency and significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

A Micro-CHP unit is a miniature CHP unit designed to provide heat and power to a small building in place of a conventional boiler. Most Micro-CHP sites use Stirling engines to operate.

Suitability

For a site to benefit, it will usually need to meet certain criteria:

CHP is only cost-effective with long operating hours (i.e. ideally for at least 12 hours/day, 7 days/week) but in general, the greater the annual period of demand, the higher the cost savings.

There should be reasonable confidence in the future demand for heat and power over the lifetime of the CHP plant, typically 10-15 years. However, packaged Micro-CHP units can usually be relocated.

There must be an adequate supply of a suitable fuel.

Benefits of Micro-CHP

  • It's a low carbon technology.
  • Providing the site energy usage is sufficient, generating electricity locally using a CHP plant will normally be a cheaper than purchasing electricity from a conventional supplier.
  • It increases security of supply, especially in remote locations or where the power supply can be interrupted.We expect several UK boiler manufacturers to launch a Micro CHP boiler through the early part of 2009, although pricing for such units has not been mentioned we are anticipating somewhere between two and three thousand pounds.

For further information about CHP please visit The Carbon Trust.

Domestic Fuel Cell Technology

Domestic Fuel Cell technology is still in its infancy, but promises within a decade to completely revolutionize the way households are heated and supplied with electricity.

How does the fuel cell work?

System diagram of the mechanics of the fuel cell Source: Ceres Power Ltd

Unlike a battery, a fuel cell does not store energy, but convert chemical energy to electrical energy - i.e. the fuel is not burned.

On the anode side is fuel (for example hydrogen gas) and on the cathode side is oxygen (in air). Between the anode and cathode is the very thin, electrically insulating but ion conducting layer.

An electrical circuit connects the anode to the cathode and provides the mechanism to power electrical devices.

Oxygen on the cathode side being ionised at the cathode and generating negatively charged oxygen ions that then flow through the cathode and across the insulating layer.

At the anode side the oxygen ion combines with a positively charged hydrogen ion and releases an electron.

The electron flows around the electrical circuit to the cathode side generating a reliable and direct DC current.

What type of fuel can be utilized?

Early in the development, pure hydrogen was considered the primary fuel. However, a new type of fuel cell has recently emerged, which is powered by natural gas.

What about greenhouse gases?

When hydrogen is utilized as a fuel, only electricity, heat and water is produced, making it a very environmentally friendly way of generating electricity.