At a cost of $18.5 million, the Department of Energy (DOE) has contracted seven industry teams to research and develop the first generation of integrated power, heating, and cooling systems. The contract is the next step in the DOE’s effort to make packaged heating and cooling the preferred system for on-site air conditioning in industrial and commercial facilities by 2020.

Buildings: Cooling, Heating, and Power (BCHP) systems could reduce energy consumption by 30% and CO2 emissions by 45%, according to the BCHP Consortium, the group that is lobbying for research into the development of the technology. BCHP systems generate energy on-site from natural gas and use the thermal energy created by the process for heating and cooling, thereby reducing a building’s demand for energy from the grid.

“Today, approximately 2/3 of the fuel energy used to generate electricity in the U.S. is wasted in the form of lost heat,” says Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. “By productively using waste heat to provide cooling, heating and humidity control in commercial and institutional buildings, distributed energy resource systems can improve overall resource efficiency levels to 70% or greater."

The industry teams selected for developing packaged/modular Cooling Heating and Power Systems for Buildings (BCHP) are:

  • Burns and McDonnell, Kansas City, Mo., partnered with Solar Turbines Inc. and Broad USA. Awarded approximately $3,000,000 to design and construct a BCHP system that provides electricity from a Taurus 5,200 kW turbine generator, as much as 3,000 refrigeration tons (RT) of free waste heat-driven absorption cooling, and as much as to 17,000 RT of additional gas-fired cooling.

  • Capstone Turbine Corporation, Woodland Hills, Calif. Awarded approximately $3,000,000 to design and test packaged BCHP Systems based on using waste heat from Capstone's 60 kW microturbines coupled with absorption chillers for air-conditioning and a desiccant for humidity control.

  • Gas Technology Institute, Des Plaines, Ill., partnered with Waukesha and Trane. Awarded $2,464,202 to combine Waukesha engine generators with Trane absorption chillers.

  • Honeywell Laboratories, Minneapolis. Awarded $4,259,202 to develop and field test a large (2 MW to 5 MW) BCHP packaged system at Fort Bragg, N.C.

  • Ingersoll Rand, Portsmouth, N.H. Awarded $2,305,469 to combine a new 70 kW microturbine with an ammonia-water absorption refrigeration system.

  • NiSource Energy Technologies, Merrillville, Ind. Awarded $800,000 to work with a Hilton Hotel developer to demonstrate a modular packaged BCHP system.

  • United Technologies Research Center (UTRC), East Hartford, Conn. Awarded $2,841,193 to design an accelerated BCHP system based on off-the-shelf components.