In a further extension of its work in distributed power generation and vehicle fueling, American Honda Motor Company is partnering with Massachusetts-based Climate Energy to bring micro combined heat and power (MCHP) co-generation technology to the home.
The new MCHP system uses natural gas to provide residential heat efficiently, with the added benefit of producing electric power for residential use.
Honda will supply its compact home-use co-generation unit to Climate Energy who will combine it with a furnace or boiler, and market the entire system as an alternative to conventional space heating and electric power in new and existing homes. Working in coordination with state and local authorities as well as energy utilities, limited in-home field test installations will occur by late 2005, with more widespread distribution planned from fall 2006.
The Honda unit consists of a small natural gas-powered internal combustion engine (the GE160V) developed specifically for this application, and a small electrical generation system that utilizes Honda’s sine wave inverter technology.
Honda bills the GE160V as the world’s smallest reciprocating gas engine. A three-way catalyst and oxygen feedback control reduce NOx emissions, resulting in cleaner exhaust gas emissions than those of conventional domestic water heaters.
Honda also expects the system to yield a 30% reduction in harmful carbon dioxide emissions as compared with conventional heating appliances and grid-supplied electricity.
Designed primarily for detached single-family homes, the unit will generate up to three kilowatts of thermal output per hour and one kilowatt of electricity.
The complete Climate Energy Micro-CHP system, powered by the Honda MCHP unit, results in more than 85% efficiency in converting fuel energy into useful heat and electric power.
A similar version of Honda’s co-generation unit has been available for general use in Japan since March of 2003, and is now in more than 15,000 homes.
This is the third distributed generation and/or fueling project Honda has introduced recently:
Phill home natural gas fueling for the Civic GX, now available in California (post)
The Home Energy System (HES) II for hydrogen, heat and power generation (post)
The new Micro CHP
Does this latest venture delivering home power generation hint at a return of a new version of the 1997 Honda EV Plus electric car? (Drawing to the right.) No, not directly.
But among the automakers, Honda is clearly the one swinging out the most in terms of exploring the possibilities of distributed power and (poly)-fueling. (Post on Honda’s polyfuel strategy.)
If Honda begins seeing full electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles as an emerging option to explore, then the MCHP system would fit nicely into the larger strategy. In the short term, though, this is an extension of its engine and power line of business.